Thursday, 14 October 2010

Mobile technology issues

Next session was a point/counterpoint session where two people give different views of a topic. This was on mobile technology and took the form of some scripted vignettes.

The first was a Professor asking for the internet to be turned off in lecture rooms because students were using it on their laptops and other mobile devices in his lectures. He is the expert, and students should give him their full attention. It amused me that he wanted a switch installed so he had a button adjacent to his screen that he could push to turn off the Internet. In the questions afterwards some universities had actually had this request from academic staff.

The counterpoint was that firstly they are only virtually doodling, looking at rss feeds is like reading the paper - just like he did as a student. Secondly, he should be changing his teaching methods to engage and challenge them. Let them use technology to research the topic before and during the class. This (hypothetical) Professor was obsessed with getting through the material they need to have for assessment.

Very entertaining debate, and I like the idea of a lead lined classroom with no Internet. Some places have students asking if it can be turned off because disturbing others. But students have always passed round notes, talked to each other etc.

Second vignette was a new president coming in with his iPhone and being told by the CIO that he had to use the standard issue Blackberry. Of course, he lives by it, can't live without it. CIO handles the situation by saying he's never used an iPhone, is sure all smart phones do same thing, and is sure he'll soon get used to the Blackberry. Or he could buy a personal iPhone and just carry two phones around. Needless to say, the President isn't at all happy....

Of course, this is the wrong way to handle this situation, standardisation used to be good. But now it's just inflicting pain on the president.

So, the vignette was re-enacted with the right way to do things. This is where things didn't go the way I thought they would. I expected the CIO to be all about supporting the users choice of device. Helping them, not saying no. But I was wrong. Apparently the right way was still to say no, but explain why. Tell the President what the risks of the iPhone would be, and help him cope with two devices. Bizarre!

This was all tied up with the law in some states which means that all official emails and texts have to be retained and released if asked eg by the press. Bit like our FoI but much worse. So, if you have personal texts or emails on a work phone they would have to be released. Really didn't understand all of this but it sounded to be madness. Not like our policy of recommending that people delete as many emails as possible!

1 comment:

Tom said...

I like the idea that using rss feeds is 'virtual doodling' - nice analogy!