Monday, March 22, 2010

I think that it's way too soon to evaluate the content creation capability of the iPad. Already, we've seen amazing creations from iPhone users in the arts. As for letters, I was impressed to see this video showing how one person has achieved 90 WPM with just two thumbs.

Certainly, creating content on touch-oriented devices will be different and possibly better, especially for non-professional content creators, aka the average learner. We should keep our minds open at least until these things are actually in the wild and applications for them are in use, getting reviewed, etc.

The assumption that LMS use will be tied to "native" iPhone OS apps is clearly wrong in the case of the recently announced Moodle iPhone app. That is a web app, not a native app. Native apps are good for two things: monetizing a product or service and, with native apps that are free, providing a richer feature set than is currently possible with web apps. With an LMS, lock-in has already occurred (even with free, open source LMSs) so that's not very relevant in this case.

A more accurate view is to look at the iPhone OS as having attributes that are attuned to commercial models and attributes that are or could be attuned to non-commercial models (web apps, ePub support, and podcasting). How teachers and learners mix and match these will be interesting to observe.

That Apple is just another corporation seeking to maximize profits should not be a surprise to anyone. In the underfunded world of education, we are, as we must be, pragmatically opportunistic and take advantage of what is within reach. Given that decentralized learning is unlikely to be fully funded by any mixture of learner and government payments, we must deal with the commercial world making every effort to convince them that they can "do well by doing good." Apple seems to understand that and has long offered more support to education than their low margin competitors.

Even if decentralized learning were fully funded by governments and learners themselves, we have to ask what kind of systems would that bring forth. Too bad the Soviet Union is no longer existing. They would certainly make the answer to that question quite plain to see. Just imagine a Soviet-engineered mobile learning device and supporting infrastructure

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