In a decade or two, when the world looks back at the transformation of learning to mobile, what will be the kick-off date? When did handschooling* really take hold and get underway? I would lay down a bet that 2009 will be the year. Here are some reasons why:
First, smartphones are rampant. These devices are actually — finally! — delivering the internet through browsers that are easy to use for the nimble fingers and sharp vision of kids. The tipping point is close and closing for the cascade of internet browsing mobiles into the hands of student age people.
Second, the mobile phone transmission networks that are quickly covering the planet are also being crept into by internet browsing. I am not an expert here, but with my iPhone, where I can make a phone call I can browse the internet. That fact is transitional for learning.
Third, online knowledge quality of learning resources has become embarrassingly superior to print. A student simply learns more by clicking through the website of the Large Hadron Collider than by reading a textbook author’s synopsis written months or years before.
Fourth, handschooling is emerging in the for profit sector, while the edu sector continues to hemorrhage money. A fellow I know is qualifying for an Apple certification for which he can only take the test on his iPhone. Apple is not tax-supported.
Maybe the HandheldLearning 2009 in London in a couple of weeks will be the day of the turning point into the new era of handschooling. If so, its founder deserves kudos. A few years ago I was on a panel with Graham Brown-Martin who founded and heads the HandheldLearning conferences, now in their fifth year. He is a true believer in learning for every child which mobile can deliver. He has pushed forward to empower kids to learn with mobiles, against education establishment inertia and the need to clarify the mobile learning vision for all of us. Graham is leading a winning movement, as I am sure the Festival will reveal.
*Handschooling is a new domain I have registered. More about that soon.