Category Archives: Mobile Computing
I guess I am a curious geek, I had to checkout Google Glass the same way I had to have an Apple II in 1979 and an iPhone when they came out. Of course I justified the $1500 Glass price tag because many at the university were itching to get their hands on them as well. I have been exploring Glass for 4 days now and I have concluded that this wearable technology is going to be Big. Not Big because of efficiency or usefulness. Big because they are just really cool.
First to catch everyone up on what Google Glass is – checkout this ABC Technology Video by Joanna Stern.
Unlike the Cyborg like appearance Google Glass generated for her wearing them in the city, I have yet to be asked about them after numerous encounters with strangers in Rolla, MO. However, it has been 6 months since Joanna first shocked people with them. The other side of that coin is that I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they feel fairly normal and do not interfere with your normal vision. You can easily forget you have them on until you want to take photo or ask Google for information.
Google Glass is definitely in Beta testing mode. If you are expecting lot’s of administrative instructions forget it. Your greatest source for answers is the heavily trafficked user forums or as Google refers to them as Explorers Community. A real downside right now is the lack of an IOS app to allow you to connect with your iPhone or iPad but that battle will be waged later when Glass goes public. Since I can’t tether my Glass to an Android Phone I walk around with my AT&T MiFi to provide Internet access, what a geek.
My first intentional public display of Glass came last night for our IT Christmas party, which by the way was great. Santa couldn’t make it but Mrs Claus and an Elf showed up to pass out gifts to the children. So I had a captured audience of IT folks and their families. First observation was that my older staff were more reluctant to checkout the Glass then the younger ones. The kids were the most interesting. It seemed like the teenagers were interested but it did not click for them as quickly as it did for the preteens.
Kids from say 6-12 immediately got it and you could see their minds race with imagination. Notice photo of brother waiting on his sister for a try. He quickly figured out how to ask Google about “Hunger Games”. I was told that the boy never stopped talking about the Glass the rest of the evening and he couldn’t wait to tell his teacher the next day.
I will continue to play with Glass through the Holiday’s but will then start loaning them out to the growing list of Geek volunteers. The bottom line is that there will be new battles over control of wearable technology but market share of mobile devices will be important. Get ready for an Apple Google clash over Glasses.
The most important technology for higher education to watch in 2012 will be the utilization of HTML5. Not because HTML5 offers the most efficient way to handle multimedia, graphic layout or utilization of local resources. No, it is about the adoption of a Web presentation foundation that will stimulate mobile and e-book proliferation to usher in a new era of computing. For mobile it simplifies the playing field and for e-books it allows for the enhancements that have always been expected.
HTML5 has origins back to 2004 and is only now at W3C Candidate Recommendation. The significance of this selection is not specifically about HTML5, instead it is about how HTML5 is influencing the standardization of web development and e-book publishing. HTML5 along with CSS3 and Java have no proprietary agenda and they deliver what this new era of computing requires, access to and presentation of vast amounts of information. We are just now experiencing the explosion of digital content consumption devices. Support of mobile phones to pad type e-readers by IT in higher education is puzzling but will be less complicated thanks to the rallying around the HTML5 standard.
Another good article on importance of HTML5 but also on the effort it will take. HTML5 Will Replace Native Apps–But It Will Take Longer Than You Think
What a great time it is to be working with technology in Higher Education. It was not that long ago that IT departments really only worried about supporting the traditional microcomputer or keeping the enterprise systems running. But the real fun occurs at the front lines where technology may actually assist with teaching and learning. And it is on the front lines where so much is changing which translates to an exciting time at least for the tech comfortable academic.
However, this excitement is not shared by all. There is plenty of stress associated with the influx of recent technology. Now this is not the same as when the micro computer entered the playing field or even when the calculator introduced disruption. Technology’s place in the past was understood and controlled. Only the fortunate few had access and only on administration’s terms. No, the difference today is that technology is now in the hands of the masses, using it on their terms. The confused administration now debates what is the computing device of choice or what is a computing device and how will it be utilized in teaching and learning. But why so much concern?
Why? Because Higher Education struggles with how to accept technology for what it has become. What we have seen in recent years with the advancement of personal computing devices is flat out amazing; and Higher Education is not immune to the desire to have and use these tech toys. We just have to divorce ourselves from the past and accept the freedom that comes with this new technology. We need to accept that these new computing devices are as pervasive as pencils and paper. Why can’t we just embrace it and adapt? Isn’t it natural for technology to challenge portions of teaching & learning without disrupting it. Maybe we are over reacting. Are we dealing with more of a culture change rather then a technological revolution?
It is probably acceptable to hand out iPads to our students and just call it a marketing gimmick. We don’t have to create or select an educational app to justify why we allow our students to use mobile devices in class. We do not need a standard e-book format or preferred e-reader to justify the use of e-textbooks. We just have to accept that this is happening and figure out how we can take advantage of the opportunities. IT support needs to transition from control to coach. Great teachers can teach without technology but when technology is dictated, leave it in the hands of the tech savvy. But this is all so new to higher education, and new is difficult for the academic academy.
So what does this new culture or landscape look like? It starts with allowing the Web to rule. Most special apps that we need are easily handled by the Web so we do not need to complicate this access with proprietary operating system apps. One of the last barriers fell a few weeks ago when Adobe gave up on Flash for mobile. Our professors should be allowed to teach. If a specific technology or media technique is truly needed to enhance their teaching then let’s have skilled technicians help provide it. The instructional designers may be getting the headlines but let’s remember that their skill sets are much more of a commodity. A proven effective teacher is an asset. And we can’t confuse adoption of technology with online learning. A valuable online course still adheres to the fundamental structure of any well taught class and must be supported accordingly. We also have to relax our academic phobia of nontraditional publishing. Maybe the whole concept of peer review needs to change. Maybe tenure will survive but not unless we change our definition of scholarship to include all forms of media expression.
What I am really advising is for Higher Education to relax and let this information access transition play out. We don’t have to incorporate technologies just because they are popular. All we need to do is remember to focus on the student. Ensure that knowledge transfer is taking place and let the well educated graduate do the rest.
I was skeptical about HP trying to break into the mobile computing game last summer with WebOS and the TouchPad but I was also pulling for them. They had a chance to be great and they sold out. Now they procrastinate about what should be their next step with WebOS and their PC business. So how close were they? With a real leader they would have been real close. I do believe they were on to something with a line of products that blended the traditional PC which they manufacture with a serious mobile OS strategy. Sure they needed to work out the kinks but the idea was solid. They needed to invest in an app distribution Cloud strategy which would have been challenging but the roadmap was right there in front of them.
Will Hewlett-Packard find the will to be great again or will they just fade away as one of the once great technology companies. This can be asked about a few other the once great technology companies; Microsoft, IBM or Dell who still have a chance, unlike the many others who no longer exist. But it is the leadership component that answers this question and leaders aren’t hired they emerge. Come on HP, you are not dead yet, you can do it, let someone lead you to greatness again.
|Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard|
So do you think Hewlett-Packard’s change of course away from mobile and PC manufacturing is a wise change or have they lost their rudder. On the surface it probably looks wise especially to the stockholders, but how can this be positive for the company? What happened to the HP I used to work for from 87-94. I worked for an HP when Dave and Bill exerted influence upon the company. Stockholders were proud to be a part of a great company, satisfied with decent dividends. Innovation came from HP Labs and profits came from just-in-time manufacturing. A diversified company provided great strength as the strong sectors carried the weaker ones only to be repaid when their need came. HP was a great company then, do the employees today still feel that way? Does “The HP Way” still exist?
Carly Florina took over the helm at HP from Lew Platt in 1999. Carly had all but destroyed Lucent and definitely did not protect the HP assets. Mark Hurd took care of one of the most important HP Ways, Integrity. And now Leo Apotheker wants to transition HP over to the high profit margin past of software services. Where do you think HP is headed?
So does HP’s ride cause us to compare what Apple might be in for? Apple is probably in good shape for a while with a true Apple leader in Tim Cook taking over under the watchful eye of Steve Jobs. A bit like Lew Platt taking over HP. How long after Steve passes on will Tim Cook be allowed to maintain the Apple culture. Consider how attractive Apple’s wealth will become to their stockholders. Not that I care greatly about Apple being protected, but I do worry about the fall of great American companies. But today I worry about Hewlett-Packard.
Relevant Article: What HP Must Do Now For CIOs
The decline of the HP Way turned off employees. Now HP must clarify its strategy to worried enterprise customers.
I have been observing IT listserv comments about what concerns they have for this year’s returning class. Seems like the traditional problems of software provisioning and student computing standards are more complicated this year as we deal with mobile devices and radical changes like software being sold via personal App Store accounts. Of course Apple is the real reason for all of this uncertainty. Whether you like it or not mobile computing blending into traditional computing is not designed for IT management. But do we need to manage it?
I am intrigued this year by institutions that dictate or distribute computers to their students. Of course that is because this is the first year in 20 that we will not be doing that. So of course we are a bit apprehensive about what the start of classes might bring in the way of computing problems. But we just aren’t sensing any concerns yet. And I think that is because at the root of computing issues is software not the computer and our culture here appears to be far more tolerant to software options. We seem to have our major computer application issues under control via the provisioning of specialized labs, typically for engineering, music and graphic arts. The only area where I have a specific software concern is for School of Business students to have MS Excel. I can still load MS Office on a student computer but I doubt that we see more then half the new students take us up on that.
Why are we not seeing more concern about how we will satisfy the computing demands of our new students? The overriding reason has to be based on a culture change. Isn’t it really habit and fear that cause us to be so concerned about controlling our computing environment. So a major culture influence has to be our moving so heavily to Apple over the last 4 or 5 years. This has caused many to accept alternatives approaches to computing tasks, meaning acceptance of a wider array of software. Hence we have reduced the fear component. Then I think our moving to Google Apps a few years ago for faculty and students without any real initiative laid the groundwork for acceptance of alternatives. Alternatives that were driven by convenience especially when we moved everyone to gmail last year. But we never pushed anything we just enabled it. Yes there has been a huge adoption of Google Services which must be contributing to this culture change. And now that we have eliminated the laptop program I think my community has remained calm because of this culture change.
George Saltsman, Ex. Dir. of the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning at ACU, and I have done some presentations lately along these lines and I like his observation of IT over the last few decades. In the beginning IT evangelized for more computer use. Then as everyone adopted our tools we focused on controlling that use. Now we are learning to embrace their computer use. I’m not sure if this will continue to play out but the stage is set. Something we always say over at GeoAid, “Change is inevitable, Growth is a choice”.