I have always been intrigued by the Nokia N series as a potential platform for mobile learning. So much so that I had in fact placed an order for the N800 on Friday.
Of course on Friday, Nokia announce the new Nokia N810, luckily for me the order hadn’t been processed so I was able to change it to the N810.
The N810 is as you might guess is an improvement on the older N800. Key improvements are a full QWERTY keyboard, a faster processor and GPS.
For me this makes the N810 a real device for mobile learning. For connectivity you either use a wifi connection or a bluetooth connection to your phone, so mobile browsing is possible, especially if you have a 3G phone. You can also play movie, audio and look at photos.
Is it an iPod touch, no, but the phone connectivity does give it an advantage over Apples’ innovative iPod.
I do wonder if there is potential in this kind of relationship between educational institutions and wifi hotspot providers. Could we see college websites and vles available for free at local wifi hotspots. Something I am certainly thinking about.
One thing I have noticed attending a few events recently is that the wireless networks have been unable to cope with the large number of delegates wanting to use it.
This happened at the MoLeNET Launch Conference, noted by others as well including Andy Black. I also noted it happened at other events as well.
A few years (or even just a year ago) if you attended an event with free wireless, there were probably just a few of you who used it with their laptops. Today if you attend an event, you may find that everyone (virtualy everyone) has a laptop and if not a laptop then a PDA or a phone or an entertainment device with wifi capability.
As a result the wireless networks can not cope and if you are late to the event, you will find that though your wireless laptop can see the wireless network it will be unable to be assigned an IP address by the router. With a self-assigned IP address your laptop will the be unable to route any kind of network traffic, so no connection to the internet.
Generally this happens because most wireless routers can only deal with a limited number of wireless clients. The Airport Express for example can only handle ten clients, the Airport Extreme can handle fifty.
Once the wireless router has reached the maximum number of clients, then it will no longer assign IP addresses, and any “extra” clients will not be assigned an IP address.
Now in theory what should then happen is that when one of the wireless clients is disconnected from the wireless network, it should release their IP address and the router should then be able to assign the IP address to a new client. What usually happens is that the client does not correctly release the IP address (the laptop is hibernated or turned off without shutting down properly) and therefore as far as the router is concerned, the IP address is still in use.
The solution is to reboot the wireless router, which in a conference or at an event is nigh on impossible, as most conference organisers don’t even know where the router is let alone how to reboot it (turn it off and back on again).
As more and more delegates at conferences and events use wireless devices, the more important it is for event organisers, conference centres and other places which hold events, to ensure that their wireless networks are scalable and can cope with the number of wireless clients.
The same can also be said for educational institutions which already have wireless networks or are thinking of introducing them.
Just because my wireless router can cope with my home network, doesn’t mean that I can use something similar in an institutional context.
I read with interest (and disappointment) that a certain fast food company is going to offer free wireless in their restaurants. Now they use the word restaurant to describe their establishments, personally I think that breaks the Trade Descriptions Act!
Proletarian fryhouse McDonald’s has announced it will offer free Wi-Fi in its 1,200 UK burger outlets by the end of the year. The move will make McDonald’s the country’s largest public hotspot provider, and pits it against Starbucks’ pay-as-you-go T-Mobile service for high street internet supremacy.
Now the thought of free wireless is always something that I love the concept of, for example: Caffe Gusto in Bristol (hasten to add only in some of their branches) has (or had) free wireless and if you popped in for a coffee you might only be in there for fifteen or twenty minutes, but enough time so you can quickly check your e-mail, do a Jaiku presence report, check a few websites and so on…
The problem with something like T-Mobile at Starbucks is that unless you have an account you can only purchase at a minimum a thirty minute slot, or even a full hour. This means you spend probably twice as much as you did on coffee to access the internet, and then you feel like you need to spend the full time in order to get your value for money.
Now the problem I have with that certain place that will offer free wireless is that I don’t like their coffee (is it too hot) and I don’t like their food (way too salty).
Please can other (nice) places start to offer free wireless, I would really appreciate it, please.
The BBC has published a review of four of the top wifi capable media players currently on the market.
The Sony PSP, the Nokia N800, the Archos 605wifi and (of course) the Apple iPod touch.
Gadget lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to portable media players, with an increasing number offering web access through wi-fi connections. We take a look at four different players – Sony’s PSP Slim, Archos 605wifi, Nokia’s N800 and the Apple iPod touch – and assess their strengths and weaknesses in different categories.
Their winner, well it’s only fair that you check out the article, but it doesn’t surprise me.
The BBC are reporting on how BT Broadband customers will be able to share their broadband connection to others to create a free shared wifi network across the UK.
The UK’s wireless net credentials have been boosted with the launch of a wi-fi sharing community by BT. BT has backed a global wireless sharing service called Fon, billing it as the “world’s largest wi-fi community”.
This means that it will be much easier (and cheaper) to access wireless internet when and where you want to.
What makes this interesting to me, apart from the obvious impact this will have on mobile learning is the following comment.
Joining the BT Fon scheme is free of charge and community members will also have free access to existing BT hotspots in its Openzone network.
This is one good reason for joining the BT Fon network as I suspect at the moment there are more BT Openzone wireless hotspots then Fon spots.
Today I was at the MoLeNET launch conference at the Oval in London.
I did Shozu a few photographs to Flickr and the blog, but unfortunately connectivity was poor and time was limited for writing blog entries.
My workshops went well, though it was a struggle to cover what I wanted to cover in only fifteen minutes, I would liked to have had more time to allow more discussion, in a similar way to the way I ran my mobile learning workshop at ALT-C.
Quite a few people came up to me to ask about various things I showed we are either doing at Gloucestershire College (the college formerly known as Gloscat) or in the process of planning how we can implement them.
I enjoyed Mick Mullane’s presentation about podcasting and texting (sms), which was illuminating.
Other parts of the conference were interesting and informative
I was disappointed with the connectivity, but it is a lesson for all of us, the wireless network failed to cope with the sheer number of wireless clients in attendance. Not only did we get a large number of mobile and e-learning enthusiasts together (most with laptops) we also had exhibitors with their wealth of wireless devices. My 3G connection was less useful for basically the same reasons, lots of people with mobile devices.
It was certainly worth going to, lots of useful networking, and nice to see a lot of colleges looking at mobile learning.
…about the rumours of new OS X based iPods, these may be wireless and may have browser capability. We should know by about 7pm tonight.
Well by 7pm we did know. I checked out the details via my phone at the conference dinner.
Apple did announce a new iPod with a touch interface (aka the iPhone) which will be available worldwide and will be wireless, have a browser and run a version of OS X.
Whether I get one, different story, £200 is a lot of money for a touch interface. I already have devices which can play music and video and portable wifi capability as well.
Having said that , it would be nice to have one, then again do I wait until the iPhone is available in the UK and get the phone element as well?
Whatever I decide one of the key things to remember is that our learners will by buying this iPod, they will be buying other iPods, other mp3 players, new phones, etc…. and we need to think about how they can utilise those devices to support their learning.
news and views on e-learning, TEL and learning stuff in general…