Friday, 14 May 2010

The Mobile University

Spent yesterday at the Eduserv Symposium on The Mobile University - an excellent day , with some great speakers (I was one of them, but am not including myself in that description!). Paul Golding, CEO of Wireless Wanders kicked off with a very big picture overview of the mobile scene - now and what we can expect in the future. 1.2 billion mobiles are sold every year - and in 59 countries there are more mobiles than people - that's active mobiles, not those languishing in drawers. He talked about current trends and drivers for Mobile 2.0 including faster access, better tarifs for data, rich user interfaces and augmented reality. A really good opening keynote, and then the next speaker brought everyone back down to earth :-)

I spoke about the issues IT departments face in supporting this mobile revolution - including licensing, infrastructure, data security and synchronisation, and user support - both locally and remotely. I used as a tag line for my talk "we don't support that", because we used to be able to say it. We owned the hardware, gave people the software, and controlled what they could do. Now we increasingly don't own the hardware, people can get software and services from many sources, and there's a diverse range of devices, browsers and operating systems. I don't believe we can say it anymore - we may have to come up with different support models (I outlined a number in the talk), and encourage self help, but I don't think we can afford not to let people ask us support questions.

Other presentations during the day covered changes to learning and teaching in a mobile University, and an extremely interesting view from outside the sector on what it was like to develop apps for mobile devices. If you want an example of the diversity available - to hit just 70% of the mobile market you would have to test your app on 375 different devices!.

In the middle of the day were some lightening talks where presenters were given just 7 minutes to present an idea or a case study - this worked extremely well and led to some interesting debate. Edinburgh University presented on a survey they had just done in readiness for developing their mobile strategy were they asked students what devices they had, what they used them for and what they would like the University to provide. Very interesting results which you can see here, and something that we may want to repeat as we develop our mobile strategy.

All of the slides from the presentations are here, although mine makes very little sense in places as I prefer pictures to bullet points! All of the talks were filmed and streamed live, and will be up on the web site soon - I'll provide a link as soon as they're there.

Thanks to Mike Nolan for the pic of me speaking!

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