Monday, 1 June 2009

Will 3G set learning free?

As mobile technology becomes more affordable and 3G technology in particular is becoming commonplace, will school/college networks become obsolete overtime?

Learners already mention that they have to power-down when they come to a place of learning (switch off mobile phones etc) and that they have difficulties getting to sites due to filtering restrictions on the provided network systems. Anecdotal evidence indicate that learners don't use their school or college email as much as required. Could it be because they find it easier to use their personal email and other social network accounts to communicate between their peers.

Where is this heading?
If schools and colleges do not deliver the technology that learners and teachers require, it is possible that as technology improves and costs go down, barriers (real and perceived) will be worked around. The resources provided schools and colleges may then become less important as teachers and learners use their own laptops and mobile phones to interact with the Internet and each other.

Two questions to answer if this scenario is played out:

  1. How can the current policies used for ILT/E-learning be enforced if learners and teachers do not use the provided (filtered and locked-down) network:?
  2. If the provided networks are not used then there may be possible financial saving to be made.

One possible way to ensure that the high quality network provided by most schools and colleges are fully utilised is by ensuring that the services offered fulfill the needs of the learners, teachers and business support. As identified in my dissertation, it is necessary to ensure that there is a communication system across the whole school/college that is responsive and robust to ensure that the digital divide is minimised and that appropriate high quality academic services and support are provided.