Tag Archives: 4g

Weeknote #23 – 9th August 2019

Doctor Johnson's House
Doctor Johnson’s House in Gough Square

Monday was another trip to London, I had been expecting to participate in a workshop, but this was cancelled late last week, and I already had train tickets and another meeting in the diary so decided to head up anyhow. The weather was changeable, raining whilst on the train, but this cleared up by the time I arrived in London.

I saw this link in my news feed and it did make me think more about how we could use AI to support learning, but also reflect on some of the real challenges in making this happen. Also do we want this to happen!

China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns. – MIT Technology Review

I wrote a blog post about some thoughts I had on this.

Is this the future of “teaching”?

In the afternoon in the office we were discussing Education 4.0 and how we are going to move this forward in terms of expert thinking and messages.

Tuesday was a busy day, first a meeting in the Bristol office, before heading up to Cheltenham for a meeting the HESA office.

CrossCountry train at Cheltenham Spa Railway Station
CrossCountry train at Cheltenham Spa Railway Station

I haven’t been on a CrossCountry train for a while now, so travelling to Cheltenham Spa from Bristol Temple Meads I was interested to see how the 3G connectivity issues I’ve always had on that route would be like, especially as I now have 4G with Three. Well same old problems, dipping in and out from 4G to 3G as well as periods of No Service. I would like to blame the train, but the reality is that there is poor phone signal connectivity on that route. As there is no incentive for mobile network providers to improve connectivity.

If I do go to Cheltenham again, I think I will take a book!

We were discussed the Data Matters 2020 Conference, which is now in my portfolio. Still a work in progress and the proposal needs to be signed off by key stakeholders.

Pub in Cheltenham
The Vine Pub in Cheltenham

Whilst I was in Cheltenham I bumped into my old colleague Deborah from Gloucestershire College and we had a chat about stuff. What was nice to hear was the number of my team and colleagues in that team that had started there in learning technology and were now doing new and more exciting jobs at universities across the UK.

Wednesday there was rain. I spent today preparing for a meeting in the afternoon and tidying up my inbox. Though I did find time for a coffee.

Flat White
Flat White from Hart’s Bakery

Thanks to Lawrie for the link, I read this report on the iPASS system, which uses data and analytics to identify students at risk.

The three institutions increased the emphasis on providing timely support, boosted their use of advising technologies, and used administrative and communication strategies to increase student contact with advisers.

This report shows that the enhancements generally produced only a modestly different experience for students in the program group compared with students in the control group, although at one college, the enhancements did substantially increase the number of students who had contact with an adviser. Consequently, it is not surprising that the enhancements have so far had no discernible positive effects on students’ academic performance.

Looks like that it didn’t have the impact that they thought it might.

In a couple of weeks I am recording a podcast and met with the organiser today to discuss content and format. Without giving too much away, we will be covering the importance of people in any digital transformation programme and ensuring that they are part of the process, consultation and are given appropriate training in the wider context of their overall skills and capabilities. You can’t just give people new digital systems and expect them to be able to use them from day one or with specific training. Familiarity with digital in its wider context is often critical, but is equally often forgotten.

Whilst writing a blog post about online learning I wrote the following

Conversations are really hard to follow in e-mail, mainly as people don’t respond in a linear manner, they add their comment to the top of their reply.

When I first started using e-mail in 1997, well actually I first started using e-mail in 1987, but then got flamed by the e-mail administrator at Brunel University, so stopped using it for ten years….

When I re-started using e-mail in 1997, there was an expectation when replying to e-mail that you would respond by writing your reply underneath the original e-mail, bottom posting, which really was something that I got from using usenet newsgroups. This from RFC 1855.

If you are sending a reply to a message or a posting be sure you summarize the original at the top of the message, or include just enough text of the original to give a context. This will make sure readers understand when they start to read your response. Since NetNews, especially, is proliferated by distributing the postings from one host to another, it is possible to see a response to a message before seeing the original. Giving context helps everyone. But do not include the entire original!

By the early 2000s lots more people were using e-mail and most of the time they were replying at the start of the e-mail, top-posting. There were quite a few people in my circles who continued to bottom post their replies, which made sense when reading a threaded conversation, but confused the hell out of people who didn’t understand why someone replied to a conversation, and from what they could see, hadn’t written anything!

Today top-posting appears to be the norm and I can’t recall when I last saw someone responding to an e-mail by replying at the end of the quoted reply.

Here is the blog post I wrote, about how online learning doesn’t just happen.

Online learning doesn’t just happen

Friday was about planning, planning and even some forward planning. One thing that has puzzled me for a long time was the difference between forward planning and planning. Thanks to Google I have a better idea now.

Forward planning is being pro-active, predicting the future and then planning to achieve that prediction.

The opposite is backward planning, which is more reactive, you wait until you get a request or management decision then create a plan to achieve it.

So what is plain and simple planning then?

Wikipedia says that planning is the process of thinking about the activities required to achieve a desired goal.

So some of what I am doing in my planning is responding to both requested goals and planning for some predicted goals.

We had our weekly meeting about the Technical Career Pathways we are developing at Jisc. I am responsible for the Learning and Research Technical Career Pathway.

My top tweet this week was this one.

State of play updated

On this day nine years ago I was presenting and giving an  overview of the current state of play of mobile tech and MoLeNET for the JISC Cetis Mobile Tech Event on the 15th June 2010 in Bolton.

Here are the presentation slides I delivered.

I created the slides in Apple’s Keynote application before saving them as images which I then imported into Powerpoint.

I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what we thought then was the state of play then and what the current state of play is.

June 2010 was just two weeks after the iPad was available in the UK and people were still wondering what to do with it and what it’s potential was, I used the image of iPad boxes to show that this was going to be a “something” and I think we can say it certainly had impact. 

Not just putting the tablet as a mobile device into the heads of consumers and educators, but also the influence it had on smartphones as well. I don’t think we would have the huge large screen smartphones we have today if it wasn’t for devices such as the iPad and notably the iPad mini.

In most of my presentations I usually put a slide like this in.

There was still a culture of presenters asking people to turn off devices, give me your full attention and all that. Today I think we have more idea of if we want to use our device or not at conferences and presentations. I certainly wanted people to think about what I was saying, but also join in the conversation using new tools such as the Twitter!

In the presentation I started to look at the news headlines of the day

Apple had released their iPhone in 2007, now three years later it was having a huge impact on the market for phones.

Today the figures are somewhat different, there is no more sign of Nokia, RIM, HTC or Motorola, but look how Samsung dominates that market along with Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers.

Another headline was the success of the iPad.

What was interesting was how much the iPhone (and the iPad) were used to browse the mobile internet back in 2010.

Today most smartphones are capable of web browsing, mainly as most websites are now mobile optimised, making it a much easier experience than trying to navigate a desktop enabled site on a mobile browser. The other big change has been the growth of smartphone apps.

Back then the data limits with mobile contracts was really limiting.

Though these limits are still here today, having an unlimited data contract is no longer the realm of business accounts, consumers and students can access contracts with unlimited data more easily and quite cheaply as well. The data landscape has changed as well with 4G speeds being widespread and we are on the edge of the 5G world as well. The other factor that has changed is the widespread availability of wifi.

I really find these data usage patterns for the O2 network for 2010 incredibly low compared to today.

I have been known to use between 50GB and 100GB per month on my mobile contract.

What’s the difference?

Hello Netflix!

I then had a link to a Jisc report published in 2009, on issues in mobile learning.

Identifying Emerging Issues in Mobile Learning in Higher and Further Education: A report to JISC

This report describes the results of a series of discussion workshops where experts and experienced practitioners explored visions of how mobile technologies and devices will influence practice in Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) in the near future. The workshop series was funded by the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) as part of the Emerge Community within JISC’s own Users and Innovation research programme. This exploration focused on identifying emerging issues for the sector arising from the increasingly likely large scale use of Smartphones, PDAs and camera phones by learners in HE and FE, both on campus and in the workplace. 

One of the things that is apparent from the report is how different mobile learning was back then compared to now. The main difference is the increase in bandwidth and connectivity. Then there was quite a bit of reliance on offline mobile learning and SMS texting. Today we see the use of mobile optimised web sites and apps.

However some of the issues in the report, highlighted in my presentation are still relevant today.

Training is still an issue, and not just with the technical side of things, understanding the affordances of mobile devices and mobile learning as well isn’t something that just happens and people instinctively know.

As discussed above, the issue of connectivity. Luckily today we have much better and more reliable wifi and mobile connectivity. This allows for mobile learning without the learner having to worry about being connected. Faster speeds allow for real time video chat, as well as streaming high quality video whilst on the move.

Collaboration back then often meant asynchronous textual conversations, as poor or expensive connectivity meant that real-time chat and conversations were not a possibility. Today collaboration is so much easier and can be done with audio or even video chat.

I also mentioned the Twitter.

As well as issues I also in the presentation talked about the fears that practitioners often felt when it came to mobile learning.

The cultural shift towards the use of mobile devices and learning whilst mobile, was something that hasn’t really gone away. 

There is still resistance to change despite advances and increases in the use of mobile technology. Often though people are happy to discover and use mobile devices for their own stuff, using mobile devices for learner is still a step too far for some.

One reference I think still stands is how as learning technologists we often think we come over as Luke Skywalker, here to “save you”.

We do need to remember that others mainly see us as…

Resistance is futile.

One important aspect that is equally important today was privacy.

With the increase in data gathering, location data gathering and increase in analytics, what was a real issue in 2010 is a much bigger issue today.

Having discussed the state of play back in 2010, I then went into discuss the MoLeNET project.

It’s interesting to see what has changed and what has remained the same.

References 

Clay, J. 2010 ‘Mobile: The State of Play (featuring MoLeNET)’ [PowerPoint presentation] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/jamesclay/state-of-play . [Accessed 14 June 2019].

e-Learning Stuff. 2010. Mobile: The State of Play (featuring MoLeNET). [ONLINE] Available at: https://elearningstuff.net/2010/06/15/mobile-the-state-of-play-featuring-molenet/. [Accessed 14 June 2019].

Wishart, J & Green, D 2009, Identifying Emerging Issues in Mobile Learning in Higher and Further Education. JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), Bristol.

Top Ten Technologies of 2016

These are technologies that I actually use, they exclude web tools and services which I do a separate top ten for. They are generally tools that make my life easier, more efficient and more productive.

Here are my previous top tens from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011201220132014 and 2015.

The tenth technology is my current workhorse computer is a Dell Latitude E7250 laptop running Windows 7, which is reasonably reliable, has a decent battery life.

Ninth is my new(ish) Canon printer the MG7752.

In eighth place is the iPad pro, which I like for the big screen. It’s an iPad, just bigger. Though the Apple Pencil adds a new dimension and I have found that aspect useful for sketchnoting.

Seventh place is the Apple TV which allows me to stream video from the Mac or my devices. Once I have fibre I expect it to be even more useful.

Sixth place is my Sony TV, which I am using a lot now for streaming video from services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer. As with the Apple TV, with fibre it will be more useful.

The tech in fifth place is the Polaroid Pogo Printer. This complements my manual note taking and allows me to add images, slides and diagrams to my notebooks. Now getting on a bit, it still has a place in my workflows.

MacBook Pro is number four. A really nice laptop that is fast, has a excellent retina screen and a great OS.

My iMac is in third place. Big 27” screen and still fast despite being a few years old now. Also a wonderful retina screen and a greatOS.

Like last year, 4G is my number two, having unlimited data on the phone means you don’t worry about streaming video, browsing web pages or uploading images to sites like Flickr. Only downside is that sometimes Apple (and others) restrict what you can do to wifi only, and as my home wifi is significantly slower this and I have unlimitedd data, for me this makes no sense.

In first place is my iPhone 6S Plus, A great phone, with a great screen and made really useful through the 4G connection. I like the camera. Having played with the iPhone 7 in an Apple Store I much prefer the physical home button of the 6S. I know not everyone likes the large screen of the Plus model, but I find it really easy to use, however the size can be a little cumbersome.

So that was my top ten technologies of 2016.

On the tech side…

Birmingham

As some will now as well as talking about e-learning stuff, I also like to talk about the tech side of things too. Over the last few months I have been talking about things I have written about on this blog before.

In my blog post Mobile WordPress Theme I have covered the update to WP-Touch, which adds a dedicated mobile theme to WordPress blogs really easily and looks great. If you have your own WordPress installation, then this plug-in is really easy to install.

Mobile WordPress

In another article I talk about how we melted the wifi at the recent UCISA event on digital capabilities. The conference centre struggled to cope with 120 delegates as the wifi, that in theory could cope with 250 wireless clients, failed to deliver a stable consistent wifi connection.

On this blog I wrote about the fickle nature of the web based on the original article which appeared on the Tech Stuff blog. This was in response to the original decision by the BBC to remove the recipes from their BBC Food site.

Weston Village

In addition to the individual post mentioned above, I have also written about my continued issues with getting FTTC at home. As well as my new Three 4G connection, where I am getting nearly 50Mb download speeds.

So if you fancy a more technical read, then head over to the blog.

Great Scott! – Back to the Future at FOTE15

There wasn’t a FOTE conference in 2015, which was a pity as it was one of my favourite annual events. I spoke at many of the conferences, most recently in 2014 when I spoke about the conflict between the light and the dark and used a Star Wars theme.

I remember reflecting on the conference on the way home that it would be a lot of fun to do a Back the Future themed talk for 2015.

Back to the Future

Alas it was never to be…

However I thought it might be a little fun to explore what might have been…

Continue reading Great Scott! – Back to the Future at FOTE15

Top Ten Technologies of 2015

Old workshop

These are technologies that I actually use, they exclude web tools and services which I do a separate top ten for. They are generally tools that make my life easier, more efficient and more productive. So though I liked Apple Watch, Google Glass and Oculus Rift, these weren’t the types of technologies I used regualarly.

Having changed roles in 2015, this has made the list a little more interesting as the technologies I used over the year did change quite a bit.

Here are my previous top tens from 2008, 2009, 2010, 201120122013 and 2014.

The tenth technology is my current workhorse computer is a Dell Latitude E7250 laptop running Windows 7, which is reasonably reliable, has a decent battery life.

For the first half of the year I had an iPad Air 2, and this is number nine in my top ten, and found it a great piece of kit. It’s smaller and lighter than previous models. Certainly much more powerful and has a better camera. The reason it’s dropped from third to tenth place in my top ten, was that having not had an iPad for most of 2015, I am not really missing it and has been generally replaced in terms of functionality by the iPhone 6S Plus.

Number one in 2014, the 11” MacBook Air drops to number eight, leaving my last job in May meant returning the MacBook Air. I really liked that computer and one day hope to get another one. I prefer it over the newer 2015 Macbook, though that one does have a retina screen.

Having spent a fair bit of time in the top ten, and now at number seven is the 2008 era Google Nexus One. I eventually retired this in November.

At number six is the iPhone 5S, having replaced the one I had in 2014, with an iPhone 6 Plus, when I changed roles, I was given an iPhone 5S which I have been using since June. It’s a powerful phone, but having the 16GB model is somewhat restrictive in terms of apps and what you can do with it.

At number five is the Apple TV, this is great for streaming video and showing photographs from my iMac on the family TV. I now have the fourth generation model which has apps and it now has BBC iPlayer, yay!

Apple TV

The tech in fourth place is the Polaroid Pogo Printer. This I bought back in 2009 and at the time didn’t think too much of it and was in many ways slightly disappointed. However trying a new methodology for making notes and planning, using a combination of a notebook, coloured pens and prints from the Pogo, the device has really come into its own this year and I have been using it much more than ever before. I am looking at replacing it though, as the battery is unreliable and I wouldn’t mind something compatiable with iOS.

iMac is my number three technology. A powerful workhorse with a great screen. I really like the design and power of the Apple iMac. I have the 27” model which has a beautiful screen and lots of real estate to do lots of different things.

Interestingly I have placed 4G as my number two technology. I have been using Vodafone 4G since about 2013, but it was only on buying an iPhone 6S Plus and changing contracts from an old grandfathered unlimited 3G T-Mobile contract to a new unlimited data 4G contract with Three that I really started to take advantage of what 4G can offer. It’s faster than my home broadband so I use the phone to stream video and connect it to my TV. Out and about, the speeds are really impressive, making it much easier to access stuff and information. I have been totally impressed with it.

So my top technology is really two things the iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6S Plus. My main work phone for the first half of the year was the iPhone 6 Plus, and I replaced my dependable Google Nexus One with an iPhone 6S Plus in November. This is one big phone, but has replaced much of the functionality of my iPad. Best feature for me is the camera, which is incredible for a phone camera. It’s very powerful phone and combined with the 4G connection I find it perfect for so much of what I need to do.

So what are you top technologies for 2015?

The decline of SMS

mobiletrains

In a recent Ofcom report, the decline of SMS was noted.

SMS use fell for the second consecutive year, from 129 billion messages in 2013 to 110 billion messages in 2014, largely due to increasing smartphone take-up and use of internet-based communications.

This move from SMS to other forms of internet based communication is partly the result of the increase in the number of people owning internet capable smartphones, also the increase in the use of 4G (making it faster to do so).

…during 2014, 4G subscriptions have leapt from 2.7 million to 23.6 million

In addition we are seeing an increase in the availability of wifi both on campus and in urban areas.

The decline may be happening, but SMS usage is still much higher than it was a few years ago, back in 2007 we sent 52 billion texts.

So what does this all tell us?

Well there are three things we should take away from this.

Firstly if you are already using SMS to support teaching and learning (or learner support) then keep doing so, the decline is there, but the use of SMS is very much embedded into the daily lives of many people and will continue for the next few years.

Secondly, note that the increasing smartphone take-up and use of internet-based communications, means that in addition to SMS you should be using internet-based communications as well.

Finally if you’re not using either SMS or internet-based communications, then planning for the future, the focus should be on internet-based communications and not that means to ignore SMS, but note that it is in decline and resources may be better placed elsewhere, as the growth in internet based comms will continue to replace SMS.

What this report demonstrates is how challenging it can be to keep pace with changes in technology, that some technologies come and go, and that sometimes you need to move fast to take advantage of technological advances before they become obsolete.

Image source.

Emerged Technologies

oldtools

Four years is a long time in technology, but how much has happened since 2011?

Back in November 2011 I was asked by the AoC to present at a conference with Donald Taylor on emerging technologies and how FE Colleges should be preparing for them.

My slides and Donald’s are in this slidedeck.

My notes from that presentation are here, but how much has changed since then and had education really embraced and started to embed these emerging technologies.

Continue reading Emerged Technologies

4G

BBC reports on the battle for 4G.

A number of companies at the Mobile World Congress are demonstrating hardware they think will make up so-called fourth generation or 4G solutions to succeed the current 3G technology.

The explosion of interest in mobile broadband – and consumers’ insatiable craving for faster connections – means that this more forward-looking part of the industry is filled with contenders.

In the UK, the highest mobile broadband speed available is 7.2 megabits per second (Mbps), and Vodafone has successfully trialled a 3G network in Spain providing 20Mbps.

It makes for interesting reading, and also makes you realise how far we have come in the last five years and how far we will probably go in the next five years.

When I first used 3G back in 2004, it was a £100 a month and I got 0.3Mbps (as in 384Kbps). Today I pay £10 per month and get (rarely) 7.2Mbps, though on average it is about 3Mbps. Ten times the speed for one tenth of the price.

If we go back to 2001, I was then using GPRS and getting about 40Kbps.

Personally for me, having a 3G connection makes my life and my job so much easier. I can do things and stuff at events and conferences, on visits to other institutions, in coffee shops and on the train. It allows me to get information, entertainment and to communicate whilst I am mobile. If our learners have 3G this makes it even easier to allow their learning not just to take place anywhere, but with 3G they can communicate and collaborate with other learners without the constraints of geography and time.

So though LTE quotes 100Mbps, I do expect in five years to see 30Mbps mobile internet connections. The question you do have to ask though is will it cost only a £1 per month?

4G

Photo source.