Classroom Technology

Staying Human in Movement to Mobile

By Ian Quillen — November 29, 2011 1 min read
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What exactly should “mobile learning” mean?

Although it could refer to the portable capability of the device—a tablet, a smartphone, or even a laptop or netbook—Cameron Evans, the national and chief technology officer of U.S. education for Microsoft Corp., said it’s actually more about the humans using those devices.

“When you’re the person that’s mobile, your experience has to follow you across a multitude of devices and modalities,” Evans said here at a morning address at the SIIA Ed-Tech Business Forum in New York. “If you like things more than people, this is the wrong conversation.”

In addressing an array of trends—such as the bring-your-own-device movement, the implementation of digital textbooks, and the crusade to bring more gaming into education—Evans encouraged the audience to think about their human consequences.

With the bring-your-own-device movement, Evans cautioned that pushing students to purchase their own educational devices would lessen school and district purchasing power as it relates to securing educational discounts, making it more expensive for schools to provide machines for students who don’t own their own devices.

As for digitizing textbooks, Evans said, devices need to improve resolution to be as easily readable for human readers as bound materials. Moreover, he said more thought needs to be given to how printed texts are currently used—not just as single resources read from front to back, but as part of a collection you might spread upon the floor at varying pages when studying for an exam.

“It’s a very shortsighted prospect to think just because we take a printed page and make a digital analog to think we’ve improved anything,” Evans said.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.