There's a real buzz around the recent release of Apple's iPhone in the US and plenty of speculation about when it will hit Australian shores and whether it has educational potential. Nix isn't so sure that it will be as good as its hype in this part of the world while Christian Long is already contemplating the design implications. He says:
As for the "serious competitive weapon," the design quotient for schools and education lies in our ability as educators to craft authentic engagement and opportunities for our student to authentically solve problems that lead to substantive creation that have value in real time in the real world. Look again at the iPhone. Think of the difference between the traditional phone experience and the re-imagination process taking place here. And start to think about the take-away's for what it means to approach the classic interface of a school. As a design problem, perhaps we are challenged to re-think the value proposition for our students and the value of the entry point, the choices they seek to make and explore, and ultimately whether we're designing for those who 'run' the ship or those who are being mentored to one day sail boldly on their own. Both are valuable, but both lead to very different outcomes - and very different user commitments.
I haven't read deeply about the iPhone - yet - but it seems that re-imagining the interface of what a mobile phone should look like and how to interact with the user is the big deal here. And if the iPod is any guide, the design element will appeal to all ages making the larger screen concept that is already in many PDA's already on the market popular instead of just how someone's Dad's Palm looks like. The important thing to remember is that this is the first in a wave of re-imagined possibilities - where education could benefit is getting the power and function of a computer into a handheld. There are more questions than answers following the release of the iPhone for me - like, how would text input work (great potential for web based office apps), could these devices communicate to a school network, and are they really large enough for decent viewing and creating of content? There have been plenty of Fantastic New Things™ - but like shoving business office suites onto school computing networks, we have to be sure that iPhones and the clones that this idea will spawn are tailor made for education and that we just don't twist ourselves into knots to make them part of the learning landscape. Would we just be better off trying to bring the OLPC concept into developed countries like Australia?