An Apple a day

I’ve just spent the day at the Apple H.Q. in London. Yet, despite all their eminence in the field of technology many of us couldn’t gain access to the WiFi. Many more had no phone or 3G connectivity either. So only later, on board the train, could I contemplate connecting to the internet (via my mobile phone) – and even then it was hit and miss.

It’s been a good day and I’ve come away with a much better understanding of how Apple ‘systems’ can work for the benefit of learners. I suspect that most of those attending the event (arranged for the benefit of MoLeNET projects) enjoyed the day and left much more well informed.

I was just a little worried however, throughout the day, about the principles of the day, which seemed to revolve around content (mainly), institutional teaching and backside covering (this is a flippant reference to the fact that four different levels of institutional agreement have to be signed off before a resource is loaded to iTunes U to make sure that copyright belongs to the institution). iTunes U interested me, as I haven’t yet played with iTunes – although I understand its concept and its use. I think the fact that institutions (still mainly U.S but increasingly worldwide) make many of their resources available online via iTunes U is commendable and that the sharing aspect of this is to be applauded but I feel that it is all quite organisation-centric and that the learner is regarded only as a consumer of product rather than a creator or co-creator. This is born out (for me) by the number of signatories mentioned above (I may be wrong about the four levels signing for each resource – but to set up iTunes U it’s a certainty: so all of the content will need to be heavily vetted).

Provided that we can all access the materials; and I’ve yet to check that because iTunes U doesn’t come up on my iTunes installation (yet?), it will be (is?) a brilliant resource.

But then we come back to content = resource. I had to ask later in the afternoon whether the learners themselves had been considered as a resource. With the kit being employed to deliver todays session (Mick Mullane did a great session on capturing and distributing content – see video http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsugden/3673874573/) I wondered why we were not taking due regard of the opportunities this brilliant kit was making for learners to learn and be assessed. The point was raised that not many learners can afford iPhones or iTouch’s (although this is becoming a more popular possession) and cannot therefore be ‘always on’. But many of the other brands of Smartphone to be found in their pockets are perfectly capable of taking photographs and videos (many of them of better quality too) and transmitting these to the web. Even if there is no data contract in force, many of the phones have WiFi access which can be utilised at home and – in the more enlightened places – at college.

We were shown an interesting graph at the outset, which confirmed my own belief that (MMMmmm – how should I state what ‘that’ is….., let’s say PCs) PC usage will decrease in favour of an ever increasing use of portable/mobile devices. I agree. I suspect therefore that Apple will continue to develop services to support this usage alongside and devoted to its development of world shatteringly good mobile devices.

But please – don’t forget the learner.

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