Jan 17

IwriterAs more schools and students use iPods, educators are adding to their repertoire of teaching strategies such as podcasting. Tools such as iWriter for creating learning programs and iLingo for language translation are specifically being written for these devices. A current sourceforge called Encyclopodia project allows iPod users to download and browse Wikipedia on your iPod. While the interface screenshots look a little naff, it is interesting for the simple fact that the worlds largest and most dynamic user generated encyclopedia can now be carried around in ones pocket!

Encyclopodia is a free software project that brings the Wikipedia, which is one of the largest encyclopedias in the world, to the Apple iPod. Encyclopodia can be installed on iPod genarations one to four, as well as on iPod Minis and Photo iPods.

This may be the closest we’ve come yet to the Hitchhikers Guide. Weighing in at a >800mb download the Wikipedia eBook carries with it some heavy issues like bias and source reliability. However, with appropriate critical literacy skills students of all ages will continue to find Wikipedia a good starting point in their research. Even Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales warns against it’s use as the be-all-and-end-all resource in educational settings:

Speaking at a conference at the University of Pennsylvania on Friday called “The Hyperlinked Society,” Mr. Wales said that he gets about 10 e-mail messages a week from students who complain that Wikipedia has gotten them into academic hot water. “They say, ‘Please help me. I got an F on my paper because I cited Wikipedia’” and the information turned out to be wrong, he says. But he said he has no sympathy for their plight, noting that he thinks to himself: “For God sake, you’re in college; don’t cite the encyclopedia.” Source: chronicle.com

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Nov 25

Australian broadbandWhen Federal Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Minister, Helen Coonan, presented the 2006 Andrew Olle Media Lecture there was no mention of the need to equip the digital natives in Australian schools with the high speed broadband facilities available to other students elesewhere in Asia and western world. This month Rupert Murdoch labelled labelled broadband services in Australia a “disgrace”. Interestingly Senator Coonan pointed out:

Digital immigrants are, on the whole, outpaced by the hoards of digital natives who do not see technology as technology but as an appendage. It’s not technology to the teens – it’s routine, it’s run-of-the-mill, it’s life.

They don’t marvel about how their mobile or their computer has made their life easier or more convenient – they can barely remember a time when these essentials did not exist.

The Pew Internet Project in the US found that the average 21 year old has, in all probability, spent 5000 hours playing video games, exchanged around 250,000 e-mails, instant messages, and phone text messages, and has spent 10,000 hours on a mobile phone and 3500 hours online.

Waiting for educational content to download Australian students will be spending a lot more hours online than their American cohorts for a while yet. Apparently we are not complaining though. If you’d like to listen to the Federal Communications Minister trying to grapple with the speed at which the media landscape is changing, ABC Sydney has made this years 2006 Andrew Olle Lecture available as an mp3 here.

This is The Future

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