For some reason, I have a lot to say about the readings this week. Must be the two days home sick with norovirus.
I’m breaking down the reading reactions into several posts as they were getting to be a bit too long and paperish for the blog genre.
Smith (2010, 2011) Pew research center Mobile access 2010 and 2011
Comparing the changes in the types of data collected in these two quantitative analyses and the evolving definition of “mobile” provided quite interesting. Initially, laptops were included in the categorization of mobile technology. This struck me as quite odd as I had not really considered laptops as mobile. I had my first laptop in the mid-90’s and stopped buying desktops in 1998. For me, a laptop is only quasi-mobile because of long boot-up time, short battery life, and a low-level of “grab and go” potential. My definition of “mobile” involves the ability to just grab the device, run out the door and use it in a car, train, library, or park without having do a full-on Boy Scout camp settlement. So reading about laptops with mobile 3G cards helped me to reflect that I have been a mobile teacher since 2003 when I would schlep into Roche Diagnostics in Mannheim, Germany all terminator-like armed with my laptop, PalmPilot, iPod, battery powered speakers, and Nokia cellphone. I even kept an upcharger in my car to assure that my arsenal was fully juiced.
In the 2011 analysis, Smith focuses solely on the smartphone device. This made me wonder if in one year there had been such an upsurge in smartphone market penetration that we truly have reached a one-stop shop in mobile devices. If the data cited in Cochrane & Bateman (2010) of 4 billion cellphone users and 800 million computer is indicative of this trend, then we do seem to have reached a key tool for the democratization of learning. Smith (2010) notes the fascinating demographics of smartphone users being affluent, well-educated and non-white. Initially, I was really encouraged by this data seeing a huge potential for a tool to begin closing in on one gap often associated with digital divide. As a literacy advocate, seeing that playing games and emailing were top activities only added further reinforcement of the potential for technology to bridge some of the gaps created by the historical privileging of print-based literacy.
But after further reflection, my socio-cultural brain kicked in and wondered what implications this may hold for education where the powerbase concentration is solidly middle-class, educated, and white. Does mobile learning threaten their power structure? Does this play into the “no cell phone” policies prevalent in schools and college classes?