Mobile interaction with the Internet on my iPhoneG3, shown above, is much better than the Internet via a desktop computer was in the late 1990s. I know because I was there. Back then I was in charge of gathering the links for learning for a channel of Jumbo!.com. We called the project by a series of changing names: HomeworkHeaven.com, NoSweat.com, and HomeworkCentral.com. In 1999, HomeworkCentral sold off Jumbo! At that point 4 million visitors a month came to HomeworkCentral to learn from links interfaced no better than they are on my iPhone.
In my role as contentmaster — starting in the spring of 1997 and through the rest of the 1990s — I collected links myself, hired and directed a staff of graduate students who collected and organized links for their subject, and wrote a weekly review of “top links” that I found. One of the earliest links I found and reviewed was “Astronomy Picture of the Day” (APOD), shown in the image with this post. It began in 1995 and has always been one of the superior and most popular learning links on the Internet.
This week I bought the iPhone shown in my hand in the image. APOD is on the screen of both my iPhone and my Mac desktop machine. In the now eleven years I have focused most of my work on collecting and reviewing links, I can think of nothing as transitional as what the iPhone has shown me: The fact is that what I can now hold in my hand in the iPhone is not only the Internet that is as good as it was in the 1990s; the iPhone is better!
Of course all mobile phones do not yet have the Internet delivery of the iPhone. Certainly the delivery by the iPhone and mobiles of every sort will only get better. BUT the transition has happened. The mobile is superior to an Internet stuck to a desk. I don’t know how laptops and mobiles will come together and perhaps specialize for different types of learning.
But I would bet all the stars in APOD’s archive that the Internet delivered by pocket mobiles will be the core device for accessing knowledge for learning — and that will be true globally. There will not be a separate “mobile learning.” The Internet’s role in future learning will be the delivery of the One Web through a mobile carried by the learner.