EDUCAUSE releases 7 Things You Should Know About VoIP | EDUCAUSE

EDUCAUSE’s latest 7 Things issue tackles the 7 Things You Should Know About VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that converts voice calls to data packets that travel over the same networks that carry data traffic. With VoIP, users with can make calls via the Internet, whether from home, an office, a hotel, or anywhere else. Institutions often save considerable costs on long distance using VoIP, and features that cost extra from traditional phone service are often included in VoIP. VoIP systems integrate with services such as e-mail and online directories, and institutions that implement VoIP can deploy converged networks that combine voice, data, emergency notification, and other systems, streamlining maintenance and reducing operational costs.

By migrating phone service to the data networks that colleges and universities maintain anyway, institutions can take fuller advantage of that infrastructure while providing another imperative to ensure the reliability of those networks, which benefits all of the IP services. VoIP involves tradeoffs surrounding factors such as cost, flexibility, reliability, and user expectations, but evidence continues to mount that improvements in technology are tilting such evaluations in favor of VoIP

Posted via email from David Middleton’s posterous

Apple Removes Teaching App From App Store

Apple generally makes news by publishing new apps, not by unpublishing them. But last week, it made some educators upset when it removed an app, Scratch Viewer, from the iTunes App Store.

Scratch Viewer was designed to let educators and others review a child’s work that was created on an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch using the Scratch programming language, which has become popular in many schools.

The Scratch language was created by the M.I.T. Media Lab, and developed with grant support from the National Science Foundation and others. It is available free as a download. The language embodies the work of Seymour Papert and Alan Kay, and using it with children is a way to give them an authentic, non-watered down programming experience. As of Tuesday, the Scratch site contains nearly 1 million (987,877) projects uploaded for public viewing.

Scratch’s popularity in schools may be why viewing these works on a portable device like an iPad may also be popular, and why Scratch Viewer ($3.99) might have a market. The app’s author, John McIntosh of Smalltalk Consulting Ltd. is a Canadian programmer who has no formal affiliation with the M.I.T. lab. In addition, M.I.T. gets no compensation from the sales of the app.

I’ve always maintained that mobile learning (mLearning) should have the goal of being completely platform agnostic for many reasons. However, in order to prepare for the time when development of mobile applications across platforms is easier, or when HTML5 is more prominent and fully developed, it is critical for institutions to begin experimenting with specific platforms. To do so requires some serious thought as to what steps institutions can and should take in regard to which platform to being working with.

While Apple has created a fantastic consumer experience for individual uses and for media consumption with iTunes, the App Store and the iPhone and iPad, it is my opinion that the closed nature of this ecosystem, as well as the draconian hold that Apple maintains over its devices (even when “owned” by the consumers themselves) is inherently bad for education. At any given time, Apple can determine that an application you are using for critical course work, or otherwise, is unsuitable according to their standards and regulations, and as a result it will be simply removed, as evidenced above.

This is extremely problematic for the development and implementation of innovative and valuable mlearning opportunities and initiatives using the iPhone OS. I understand that this can be negotiated and rectified, but the problem still exists, and can strike at any time. Much of higher education teaching and learning research these days shows that students are most interested and involved in the curricula that allow them to create, to collaborate and to contribute their own viewpoints perspectives and creativity into their courses. mLearning provides a unique opportunity for higher education to bridge a gap that currently exists between the consumption and creation of course content. The possibility of mobile is not the replication of tasks and activities that can be done on laptops, in labs or on desktops, but rather the ability to apply course concepts and activities to the students’ real lives, where they can create, observe and interact with the concepts and share this with their classmates and faculty members. If education is to help foster the development of creative and critical thinking, high-level-problem solving and freedom of thought and speech, then building mLearning efforts on the iPhone and iPad platforms is short-sighted, restrictive and contrary to the goals of education.

While it may be attention grabbing and trendy to launch academic initiatives using the iPhone or iPad, there are serious considerations that will have implications on the long term viability of relying on a closed system to determine if the applications you want to use, or the functionality you are relying on etc etc are deemed appropriate by Apple. While the ease of use of Apple product make them appealing to the masses, most mobile operating systems are moving toward a much easier user interface, and already include much if not all of the functionality the iPhone 4 OS will be launching for the first time. Finally, while the integration with iTunes provides a fantastic user experience, every mobile OS has it’s own application repository now, and they will only continue to get better.

The point of this is simple. Higher education in particular needs to be careful about which path they choose when considering mLearning initiatives. Open is always better than closed in teaching and learning, and while the masses are elbowing each other out of the way to become the first to use iPhones and iPads, think carefully about what the real academic goals are before investing a significant amount of money into an effort that will leave you completely reliant on the whims of Cupertino.

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Using Mobile Devices to Improve Healthcare Around the World – Microsoft Research

All good things, of course, but with mobile technology having passed its novelty stage, some uses hold greater portent. The traditional role of the cellphone is evolving rapidly to provide more computing power, increased display capabilities, and enhanced Web connectivity. These projects are using the increased power of smartphones to explore bold, novel, and unconventional approaches to providing much-needed healthcare services. People are beginning to envision scenarios in which the ubiquity of such devices can have a more consequential impact, one that promises not only to empower individuals, but also to improve the lives of entire communities.

A couple of these projects have been made possible by a Digital Inclusion request for proposals (RFP) issued by Microsoft Research Redmond‘s External Research & Programs group. The RFP was designed to encourage and support deep academic research to achieve breakthroughs in digital inclusion, and researchers in South America and Africa have stepped up to the challenge.

In Argentina, Guillermo Marshall and Marcelo Risk of the Laboratory for Complex Systems within the Computer Science Department of the University of Buenos Aires are pursuing the construction of a digital-inclusion kit to expand the frontiers of computer technology in health and higher education. In Botswana, Henry Nyongesa of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Botswana is striving to provide access to information that can improve the management of chronic health conditions.

Two projects, two continents, one complementary objective: bringing better healthcare to underserved populations via mobile devices.

Some background information on Mobile Research and data collection to provide better healthcare and to better serve the world. Written in 2007, it’s interesting that more has not been done in this arena. Seton Hall’s Center for Mobile Research and Social Change aims to help foster a broader perspective of how the evolution of mobile technology can and will impact social justice, environmental and world health issues, among others.

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How “Open” is Android?

What’s even more fascinating is how closed Android is, despite Google’s do-no-evil mantra and the permissive Apache 2 license which Android SDK is under. Paraphrasing a famous line from Henry Ford’s book on the Model-T, anyone can have Android in their own colour as long as it’s black. Android is the best example of how a company can use open source to build up interest and community participation, while running a very tight commercial model.

Google touts Android as being Open Source, but those knowledgeable have always pointed out the lack of access to critical components that would make the growing operating system actually open.

This article examines exactly how open Android is, and how Google maintains control over the OS, and as a result, the devices, manufacturers and carriers which use it.

What’s most fascinating to me is the analysis of the Open Handset Alliance, the limiting role of the compatibility test suite and the recognition that “Android is no more open–and no less closed– than Windows Mobile, iPhone OS or Palm OS.”

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Ovi Maps, with Free Navigation!

Today, Nokia announced a new version of Ovi Maps with free navigation and location sharing:

” The new Ovi Maps will also support location-aware social networking, such as buddy finder apps and Facebook. It will provide driving and walking directions in 74 countries with support for 46 different languages. It can provide real-time traffic information in 10 countries, and provides maps for 180 total countries around the globe. Nokia claims that its hybrid vector graphics technology provides a ten-fold data and cost savings when compared to Google Maps, making it better for both consumers and network operators. It can work when no network connection is present, as it will always pre-load maps in the background. The new version of the application will work with 10 models immediately (N97 Mini, 5800 XpressMusic, 5800 Navigation, E52, E55, E72, 5230, 6710 Navigator, 6730 Classic and X6). Nokia will make the new Ovi Maps available to most of its GPS-equipped phones by March of this year.”


Updates for Ovi Maps for the N97 will come on January 28, 2010, and hopefully for other devices shortly thereafter.

Posted via web from David Middleton’s posterous

New Nokia Phone to Run on Coke Thanks to Bio Battery

When it comes to weird and wonderful designs, Daizi Zheng is right up there with the best of them. Her latest design is Nokia cells phones that are powered by Coke; this is done by using a new Bio Battery. It is not just Coca-Cola that can power the phone but any sugary drinks.

According to the designer, the new Nokia phones battery would get its power from enzymes, it is those that will generate the electricity from carbohydrates and will last three to four times as long as conventional lithium batteries. Not just that, but this power source is also biodegradable.

Zheng was asked by Nokia to design an eco power source alternative for its handsets, she knew that current cell phone batteries were not only expensive, but uses valuable resources throughout the manufacturing process. Coming up with a cheaper, greener choice is something worth solving.

As mobile devices continue to look for the next killer app, or the fastest processor, I am always encouraged to see evidence of research that is looking for new ways to continue to improve technology while striving to protect the environment. I’m not sure of the practicality of this, nor the necessary shift in the manufacturing ecosystem that would need to take place in order to help push this along, but it is still nice to see companies investigating alternative power sources.

Posted via web from David Middleton’s posterous

Call for SHUmobile Proposals!

The TLT Center has a limited number of Nokia smartphones to support projects designed to utilize mobile technology. These devices allow users to create, share and consume media, collect and process data, communicate with peers, faculty and administrators as well as access the web to conduct research and retrieve information.

Proposals are now being accepted for the use of these devices for special projects designed to support student learning, engagement and community. Proposals are due by Tuesday, December 22, 2009. Please submit all proposals electronically to Danielle Mirliss, Associate Director TLT Center, by emailing

To access a copy of the proposal, click here.

TLTR Event: Mobility Project Best Practices

Pauledited.jpgOn Wednesday, November 11, 2009, the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable held its first event of the academic year: Mobility Project Best Practices. The use of Nokia mobile devices has been piloted by faculty and administration for the last year in their courses or their departments. This fall semester, 16 projects were launched with about 450 devices!

Presentations at this event were conducted by faculty, students and administration to share with the SHU community the exciting work that is being done on and off campus with mobile devices.

Paul Fisher, Director of the TLT Center kicked off the event describing Seton Hall’s initiative, SHUmobile, with his presentation The Evolution of the Mobile Campus.

Next on the agenda was Hezal Patel, Freshman Studies Mentor and Mary Zedeck, Instructional Designer. This project involves the University Life course and the use of mobile devices to create multimedia artifacts for student ePortfolios as well as the investigation of platforms for ePortfolio creation. Two Nokia device models spanning two semesters, the N95 and the N97, have been incorporated in three transfer sections of the University Life course. The slides from this presentation can be viewed here.

The third presentation was conducted by Karoline Stankiewicz, William Petrick and Jas Verem of Housing and Residence Life who are using Nokia 97s in a variety of ways to enhance the living and learning communities at SHU. Their presentation highlights the exciting ideas from HRL in how they are creating an online community for distribution and sharing of resources and experiences.

The last presentation was given by Dr. Michael Taylor, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies and two of his students, Brittany Tumminia and Jacie Jones. Dr. Taylor has been using Nokia mobile devices since the beginning of the SHUmobile initiative and has incorporated all three models that are currently on campus, Nokia e71, N95 and N97, in his courses. Brittany showed a location and place digital story that she created in Introduction to Environmental Studies and Jacie showed a mini-documentary that she developed in Introduction to Public Policy. Dr. Taylor discussed the two assignments above, general use of mobile devices in higher education and Seton Hall’s newly formed Center for Mobile Research and Social Change.

Update to the N97

n97-20v-170.jpgThe Nokia N97 received an update a few weeks ago, and many of the users here on campus have been working with the new release.

Here are some of the highlights:

New features :

  1. Nokia start-up screen has been enhanced with a “Connecting People” slogan below the Nokia logo (May not be found in All Versions).
  2. The phone has lesser memory after start-up but it seems to utilise the memory very well and very little lags and crashes are present.
  3. The dial-pad on the home-screen now has letters embedded too.
  4. “Kinetic Scrolling” EVERYWHERE throughout the phone interface including applications.
  5. Updated web browser from (v7.1.13841) -> (v7.1.17475).
  6. The “long press for symbol” function of the keyboard has already been revealed and it works as advertised.
  7. Updated version of Nokia N97 Pre-installed Applications (Ovi Maps, QuickOffice, Youtube…etc).
  8. Whole NEW Applications like (Ovi Contacts).
  9. A little bit more Reliable & Speed in opening Multiple Applications.
  10. At Contacts > Profile you will see a new option there called ‘Edit active profile’.
  11. No longer Randomly switches back to “Nokia Tune”.

    A Word From Nokia NSU Team:

    “This software release improves touch screen usability, allowing you to scroll smoothly through content by flicking the screen. Ovi Maps 3.1 brings 3-D maps, more accurate positioning, and improved search. Nokia e-mail (Nokia Messaging), Ovi Contacts, Ovi Store, and VoIP support have been added. This release also includes improvements in memory and battery performance, and in image and video stability”


    Please contact PC Support Services to have your N97 updated!