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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Move over WiFi, here comes GiFi

While playing with Newspond, I came across information on the wireless protocol that is going to turn your student's cell phone into more of a computing workhorse than ever.

Here comes GiFi
Interestingly, this technology named GiFi, invented by our friends down in Australia, and is supposed to replace WiFi. This technology uses a different spectrum than WiFi and is supposed to be allow a whopping 5Giga Bits per Second for up to 10 Meters. (ZdNet)

Can you say, streaming HD?
They believe this will make it possible for us to live streaming HD wirelessly as well as a virtual connection to a docking station that would let your laptop display on multiple displays AND access non-internal hard drive storage.

The article says it won't be here until 2009 but the target price for this chip is $10 -- yes, $10 which it means it can be in pretty much anything.

What it means for education
I've been continually saying that one day, we're going to be REQUIRING kids to bring their cell phones to school, particularly as they fully converge with computing devices of all kinds. (Their textbooks will be loaded, infrared keyboards will make it easier to type in them, and all of their data and homework will travel in these things.)

Get at behavior
No longer just fuzzy recordings to youtube (see Spies Like Us), kids will be able to live stream from cell phone to HD tv's around the world.

We need to fully discuss and integrate digital citizenship at all levels. I think the reasons we're having so many problems with cyberbullying, hacking, and other behaviors, is because most schools largely ignore technology and relegate it to the "computer teacher's job."

As cell phones, computers, digital paper, and even computing surfaces integrate fully with our lives, we will see that these are part of everything we do and should indeed be a part of every subject.

And, remember, I don't advocate gadgets for the sake of gadgets (See Washington Post Article - Too High on Gizmos) -- more gadgets don't always mean better grades.

I'm sure that my miniscule $25,000 technology budget makes my vendors snicker behind my back. (That includes everything from internet connection to antivirus renewals.) However, it is the connection with the world that makes our program world class, not the hardware.

Hardware (and to some extent software) is becoming a commodity.

Increasingly, its presence does not guarantee that a school will be "leading edge." It is the USE of technology that determines the success of a school and the future success of its students.

Too many IT directors bemoan the dusty smartboards and unused laptops. (See info on the Montreal School Board that did just this.)

We need to work on behavior and bring these tools out of the bathrooms and closets and pockets where kids can literally text without our knowledge. Let's teach their effective use and also teach and promote self control.

Are cell phones disruptive? Yes. (For that matter, laptops can be too.)

Is it going to get worse? Yes. (It depends on how you define, "worse." Losing battle - yes -- great for your technology budget if you start thinking about it!)

Are we going to do something to help our students know when to use these tools and how? Only you can answer that question

I think it is time to start harnessing these tools. I don't have all the answers and we still "ban" cell phones and ipods in all places but my classroom, but I keep thinking that we've got to get to a more stable, workable solution with these little "monsters."

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