“Modern mobile devices are highly sophisticated and easy to learn and use technological appliances that make it practical for virtually anyone to perform old tasks or learn new ones using one physical device in a multitude of ways. Mobile is a Swiss Army Knife of functionality in a device that fits in every pocket or purse.” Robert Gadd
I took off to Paris for a week with my wife and daughter this summer and had a great time. I had last been to the City of Light over 20 years ago and was struck by the paradox of how much, and how little, had changed.
Certainly, the layout of the city; the architecture, the cafes and museums were unchanged- 20 years is a mere drop in the bucket for such a historic city. But the way we interacted with the city, and its people and, our people, was radically different.
Why? Mobile computing and the web.
Before we arrived, we relied upon the many travel-based web resources to find an apartment to rent, sketch out our itinerary and read reviews of the many attractions (and the best cafes). Upon arrival used our GPS enabled mobile devices to navigate the city, locate places of interest (and cafes, of course). My teenage daughter was able to stay connected with her peer group and share highlights and adventures using the wi-fi connection in our flat to access her go-to social media sites and my wife and I were able to tweet, text and even Skype, with our family and friends. This was particularly handy as we tried to coordinate and support some medical visits for our youngest son after he had injured himself at the beach the day after we left.
I also noticed that Paris has become a much more global and connected place- with a diverse population that was multi-lingual. I thought I’d get the chance to use my mobile translation app and dodgy recall of high school French often, but found I rarely had to chance as many more Parisians were fluent in English than previous.
And that’s 20 years. With rapid changes we have experienced in mobile communications and computing only accelerating (see Moore’s Law) I can only imagine what next next 20 years will bring.
It is for this reason that our school is going mobile. Starting in September we will roll out our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy for students in the Junior and Intermediate grades. We will work carefully with students, staff and families to implement this strategy and adhere to our district policies and procedures and document our successes and struggles along the way.
It is also why we have made the decision to abandon student agenda planners for students in these grades and field test, with the support of the board, a school-based mobile app. The app will have all of the content currently on our school web site ; in mobile format, as well as some additional features listed below. Not that we are all braggy here; but we are kind of proud that we were the first elementary school in Canada to launch a mobile app.
The app is a free download for Android and Apple mobile devices and will allow both students and families to keep track of assignments, school events and receive “push notifications” or updates directly from us, in real time.
So, Park Avenue PS is going mobile. Of course, like my summer travels, there are things that will remain the same (most actually) and things that will change as a result of, and a response to, the impact and reality that mobile devices have brought to our world and our schools.