Archive for the ‘mobile healthcare’ Category

Wearable Tech – The New Frontier for Learning

(This editor from the motley fool sums up how I see the current state of wearables.)

I started learning about mobile technology in 2006 and I really saw the potential for learning. Now we are starting to see some great implementations in the way of mobile technology employed as a learning tool. From the more advanced technology of augmented reality applications to simple text messaging (SMS), people are learning and learning to use their mobile phones and tablets for learning in the moment of need.

Wearable technology is an extension of mobile technology, beyond the smartphone and tablet. We are at the beginning and wearable technology will advance and find it’s way to our clothing and our accessories (watches, bracelets, glasses, shoes, gloves, etc.). There are a number of accessories available already:

Google glass: Glass is a very compelling learning platform. There are even some simple things you can do right now to create Google glass content with the Mirror Api, which allows you to create content in HTML, video, rich media and text, so it’s not a big leap for many of those with some basic technical skills. I like the format of the Mirror API because it’s a card style layout and that has worked really well with mobile learning products.

Smart watches (Galaxy Gear, Pebble to name a couple): Right now, these watches are seeming to fit a real nitch in the way that they provide notifications, which is unique compared to smartphones. Smartphones can typically provide you with an audible notification that something has happened (example, a sound when a text message arrives), but they require you to remove the phone from your pocket to check the notification and that interrupts the flow of what you’re doing. A smartwatch can provide that same notification and you can react by simply looking at your wrist. If you don’t need to act, then you don’t need to interrupt your flow. A passive indicator can be helpful in retaining attention and focus, which we know is key in learning. There’s lots more to think about when it comes to how smartwatches can be useful to the world of technology enhanced learning, so we’re just getting started.

There will be a lot to come on this topic and how we can further leverage wearable technology for learning purposes. In the meantime, check out this podcast and the article below to gain a perspective on wearables.


How m-Learning Can Effect Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality Image

I haven’t posted in awhile,  but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been paying attention to the mobile world. And one thing I’ve noticed is the nervousness building in the mobile community regarding net neutrality and what some companies are accused of wanting to do to block net neutrality. This post from engadget attempts to explain how Google and Verizon are trying to deal with net neutrality. Overall, one major fear is that companies will try to limit access to certain content by providing a tiered system of access to the networks, charging higher prices for faster Internet access, network speed, and access to content. Companies could block certain content and allow favorable exposure to consumers if a company pays to have that exposure. Some liken this to the television world, where companies pay to advertise and gain exposure to a consumer base and content is censored.

You may be asking yourself, how does this effect mobile learning? Well, I can see it playing out in several different ways. First of all, learning content is something that we all want and learning content can really help to level the playing field for those who may normally lack access to good educational content in their local communities. And educational content can come in many forms, i.e. tutorials, manuals, courseware, web-based college courses, standard operating procedures, videos, forum/blog posts, etc.

Some net neutrality advocates (and I think we all are advocates of freedom and access, at least to some extent) fear that mobile access to content of all kinds will be the first to go if the battle for net neutrality takes a turn for the worse. The worry is that the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will apply the lessons learned from the wired Internet (i.e. they just provide all access at a standard price and speed, but they could make more money if they had multiple tiered systems like they do for cable television) to the mobile and wireless Internet and the services that go along with that. They worry that ISPs will find a way to selectively provide content to consumers based on the price those consumers pay and the plans they choose. This means that my wireless Internet provider, Verizon Wireless, could charge me the highest monthly price to receive the fastest access with the most content. If I paid less, I would get less access to content or slower connection speeds or both.

It seems to me that we as consumers could combat the possible move to restrict access and speed by insisting that the mobile/wireless Internet allow for learning content to be accessed by all consumers at all price levels. As I stated earlier, learning content comes in all sorts of forms and sorting those forms out from other forms of content would be extremely difficult service providers. Learning content can come from academic institutions, corporate knowledge bases, consumers etc. So insisting that all learning content be accessible to all could allow for a fairly large classification of content to be free and unrestricted for all consumers.

This may seem like a stretch or may even seem irrelevant to some, but I would love to live in a world where all those who have a connection to the mobile Web also have unrestricted access to learning content of all kinds. To limit the access of any learning content to only those who pay high prices for unrestricted access would be a real step backwards and a disservice to all.

This is probably one of the more opinion oriented posts I’ve written, but it seems important to a lot of people that we have access to learning content on the mobile web. I think that if we can convince the powers that be that we should allow learning content to be a special unrestricted category for all subscribers to the mobile/wireless Internet, we will continue a tradition where the Web provides a real service to all who consume information from it. Otherwise, it may just become another commodity where the haves are separated from the have-nots, and it could also prevent learning content providers from serving their audience.

iBreathe, An Innovative Application to Allow Military Men and Women to Relax

Reading about iBreathe at Information Week gets me thinking about the combination of real-time performance support and learning and how it integrates so well on the mobile device. I’ve never used this application of course, but the idea of it is very cool. This is the type of application offers video to teach learners about breathing techniques to help them relax when confronted with a stressful situation. The application also provides the learners with a number of ways to catalog their behavior and emotions in addition to enabling the learner to practice effective techniques for relaxation. The impact of an app like this can’t be measured simply with app download counts, this is the type of thing that can help someone live a better life.

Mobile Innovation – Using the Device as a Microscope

Innovative thinkers are always finding new ways to leverage the power of the mobile device. We’ve seen the screen used for a flashlight, the device used as a compass and lots of other novelty oriented uses (just take a look at the iPhone’s app store). But now a professor of engineering has been able to use the software and hardware features of a mobile device to create a microscope capable of checking for diseases.

The New York Times article cites an example where a user could place a slide of blood under a cheap external hardware setup on the device and the mobile device’s camera could image that blood. The image could be sent from the device to a doctor for analysis.

I really think we’ll start to see more of these types of applications, where the device’s capability is enhanced with bolt-on solutions capable of exploiting the mobility of the human operator and the device and extending the power of the hardware and software.

Mobile learning can truly benefit from thinking along the same lines, especially if you consider the number of field deployed workers who operate several different electronic tools, sensors to diagnose problems with equipment etc. Using the device as a central hub for those types of sensors could really make life easier for those types of employees. And the networked communication of a mobile device offers the ability to receive real-time feedback on procedures, and training on the spot for those who operate sensors and diagnostic equipment.

Mobile Healthcare Apps Exemplify m-Learning

I try to be fairly broad with my resources as I research mobile learning and the mobile lifestyle in general. The latest article I came across is from Information Week, here’s a link to the the “Top iPhone Healthcare Apps” article.

There are a couple of things I covered in previous posts, but I think it’s worth a fresh post since mobile healthcare is really blazing a trail for m-learning in many ways. Doctors have really taken to mobile technology in a way that most of us have not. For years, the healthcare industry has been deploying mobile technologies of all kinds to medical practitioners so they can access references, patient records and all sorts of other information necessary to them at the point of need. In the past, healthcare workers often relied on specialized mobile devices or somewhat combersome PDAs to reference topics pertinent to a patient’s condition. Now things are changing and doctors are able to use off the shelf consumer technologies like smartphones to access medical records, reference large catalogs of medical information and even push perscriptions to farmacies so the patient’s medicine is waiting for them when they get there. And using consumer technologies offers another big advantage, it allows the patient to proactively handle their health care by carrying their records with them on their mobile device.

AllOne is the application that patients use to manage their healthcare records and it even offers the ability to look up x-rays and other types of scans on the device so doctors can see them. Information Week references AllOne in another article.

I think it’s pretty amazing that we can facilitate an interactive relationship with doctors and patients through mobile technology. The applications used in mobile healthcare are also offering performance support and coaching to patients by reminding them to take medicine, record nutritional information (meals, ex. for diabetes patients) and even reminding them about appointments. Just think of how we’ll be using these types of relationships for other mobile learning tasks. If doctors can rely on mobile learning paradigms, most of us can give it a shot too.