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Recommendations for eLearning Strategy

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Can you spare a few minutes to imagine a future?

(by Stephen O'Rourke)

A future where interactive wireless technology is ubiquitous. A future where cloud computing is the norm. A future where mobile computing is a reality. A future that might be less than a decade away.


It’s not all dreaming, a lot of it is current technology. However, it does need to develop hand-in-glove with faster wireless networks and secure cloud computing.

But wireless is too slow isn’t it?

Your current wired local area network (LAN) is 1000Mb/s or 1 Gb/s.

[10/10/2005] cleverstocks
Twenty six wireless networking chips and equipment makers and developers Monday announced a coalition formed to accelerate the IEEE*802.11n standard development process and promote a technology specification for next-generation wireless local area networking (WLAN) products. The group hopes to speed-up ratification of the standard that may enable up to 600Mb/s transfer speed via wireless networks while maintaining compatibility with existing devices.”

[2010] 600Mb/s wireless network devices appeared on the market and 600Mb/s wireless networks will become standard through 2011 to 2013.

[10 May, 2010] The Wireless Gigabit Alliance™ (WiGig) which seeks to advance the worldwide adoption and use of 60GHz wireless networking technology, has published a unified specification for its approach and opened an Adopter Program. The move means that WiGig members can now begin developing Wi-Fi(802.11) kit that delivers wireless networking speeds of 'up to' 7Gbps (Gigabits per second) over the unlicensed 60 GHz spectrum.
We are probably talking three to five years for “up to 7 Gigabit” Wireless. In the same timeframe wired LANs will move from 1Gbps to 10Gbps, but wireless isn’t going to be left behind.

Yep, OK, but that is all about LAN speed, what about WAN speed and connections to the Internet.

Today’s ADSL 2 networks offer a maximum download speed of 12Mb/s. With ADSL2+ its 24Mb/s maximum. Telstra’s 4G network will offer downloads as high as 60 and 80Mb/s. Read more

[15 February 2011] Telstra to launch 4G mobile broadband
"Australians will again be at the leading edge of mobile telecommunications with Telstra today unveiling plans to upgrade its Next G™ network with 4G technology later this year. Announcing the plan at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Chief Executive Officer David Thodey said the company plans to upgrade its existing Next G™ network with Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the central business districts of all Australian capital cities and selected regional centres by the end of 2011.”

National Broadband Network FAQ
"NBN Speeds of up to 100Mbps (12 times faster than ADSL2+) were initially promised for fibre connections, with 12Mbps speeds promised on wireless and satellite connections”. Ok, the NBN won’t actually deliver 100Mbps to any single user, but the speed will be noticeably faster than ADSL2+, the network will reach significantly more people than the current ADLS networks, and the bandwidth will be share be fewer people than will share the wireless bandwidth. The NBN is also about the interconnection of business and wireless access points – another story for another day.
The short story is that we’ll have high speed broadband AND we will be able to connect to the Internet with reasonable wireless speeds, at least as fast as and probably much faster than today’s wired broadband speeds. Real-time cloud-based computing will be possible.

But what is cloud computing and when will it be available?

Cloud Computing is a technology that uses the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications. Cloud computing allows consumers and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access. This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing and bandwidth.”

Office365: It's anywhere access to email, documents, contacts, and calendars so you're always up-to-date. It's familiar Microsoft productivity applications your team already uses. It's business-class security and reliability. It’s IT control and efficiency delivered to fit your organisation's unique needs. And it's an all in one pay-as-you-go service with an affordable price. But that’s just the beginning.”

NSW Dept of Education saves $200K in infrastructure: “New South Wales Department of Education avoids $200,000 infrastructure investment by hosting online science testing in the cloud.”

That’s right, cloud computing is happening now and will develop rapidly over the next decade.

What about office software, won’t I still need a computer?

Over the coming decade cloud-based computing will mean that all server based technologies – including application virtualisation – will move from the on-premise business server, to the data centres of ISPs, Telcos and online businesses (into the cloud). Your mobile device will access the cloud and thus all the services currently provided by the business LAN.

Web 2.0, Cloud Computing and Ubiquitous Networking will eventually connect the end-user to both the Internet AND to their Application Software, anywhere, anytime. All in one connectivity packages will be available through your ISP or Telco. No, not maybe – starting right now.

For me, the writing is on the wall: high speed wireless networking, mobile technologies (think beyond the current smart phones to integrate communication devices, tablets and other technologies), and cloud based computing all equal a world beyond the PC and the laptop. Computing will move from the desktop to a mobile world where the full power of your computer is available everywhere – wherever you are. Microsoft’s Windows 8 (or whatever they choose to call it) is touted to be a touch-technology operating system for all mobile devices and future computing surfaces.

We'll still have PC's - running touch-sensitive OS like the next generation of Windows - or at the very least we'll need docking points with large screens and fast input devices so we can do the required editing. However, we won't need PC to enjoy the output, nor to interact with the online content.

So, none of this mean we won’t have a PC. It just means we won’t need to be tied to a desktop PC in order to work on a computer or in order to complete business (or educational) computing tasks. Won’t need to be… won’t want to be. The same OS, the same Apps, the same software we use on our desktop will be available on all our mobile devices.

So what does this all mean for eLearning?

Yes, we need a strategy for eLearning, and that is the current consideration, and it is very important we get it right. I’m not suggesting we should be distracted from that mission.

But what about the future?
[PDF] Finnish Future: From eLearning to mLearning

I think we can’t just limit our thinking to yesterday’s technologies – classrooms full of desktop computers. Not this year, and maybe not next year, but somewhere in the close future we might consider strategies like replacing desktop computers with tablets and other mobile technologies. The current computer labs and flexi-centers might became docking points where students with tablets and other mobile technologies can access large screens and wired LANs. Outside these docking points they will still be connected through wireless LANs. Students could bring their own mobile technology or borrow suitable technology from the campus library. Blended learning would no longer be Computer-Lab based or home PC based, but would be available to all students.

It is not so much that these technologies will define the future of computing, but rather that they promise to free the average user from the need to focus on the technology and from the need to be tied to one fixed access point. Computing will be a ubiquitous all-purpose communications experience and the technology & software will be a secondary issue.

None of this changes the need for good pedagogy. But it may well change the environment where we work and may well require us to work harder to identify the most appropriate pedagogy (something we should be doing anyway).

[PDF] What lies beyond the laptop initiative? Perhaps Tablet PCs and...
[PDF] What lies beyond E-Learning?
[PDF] Cloud Computing Through Mobile Learning

**The New Technologies, New Pedagogies** **Project** investigates and creates new teaching and learning strategies using mobile technologies. Participants in the project explore the use of mobile devices as cognitive tools, and create pedagogies for the use of smart phones and iPods that go beyond the standard convenience and communication functions.

This site offers a range of pedagogies and resources for the use of mobile technologies in higher education.

...links to more information about mLearning. provide some good discussion on the concepts of m-Learning, along with Case Studies and resource links. The presentation below is there introduction to m-Learning and you can visit their site and download their free infoKit.

Learning and Teaching with iPads - Blog for schools with many useful ideas


Recommendations for eLearning Strategy