Open Source

Handheld Learning Solution

Sanako, a company providing language-learning technology, announced some days ago, that they are partnering with Nokia to provide a “learning solution” for Nokia’s N810 Internet tablet. Computer Business Review reports the partnership and writes something about Sanako’s and Nokia’s plans.

For a long time I have been asking Nokia – I have some friends in there – to consider offering and developing the Internet tablet products for educational markets. I would like to see students using it for knowledge building, for using open and free educational resources (Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikiversity, etc.) with it, and for blogging and writing their own wikis with an easy to carry, comfortable and user friendly (Linux) device.

Sanako is a language-learning company with background of producing language-learning lab equipments already during the times of reel-to-reel audio tape recorders. With its history as the Norwegian Tandberg’s (found in 1933) educational division, we may assume that they know something about educational technology and education technology market. During the year they have changed from audio hardware solutions to audio software solutions.

Even though Sanako has a long history in education technology, I am a bit worried about their know-how of pedagogically sound educational practice with computer tools. I am sure they are still great in language learning solutions, but it is a very special case and area of teaching and learning. The methods used in teaching foreign languages are not very useful in many other school subjects. Still, Sanako is today providing their solutions much more as a generic classroom solution than a specific tool for language learning.

For instance the solution that will run on the Nokia N810 is called “class management software”. In practice with the Sanako solution teacher may manage what pupils can see on their client device via server on the school network, transfer files for the whole class, a group or an individual student, have one-to-one chat/audio communications with students, take control of the student’s browser to make them all to view the same content, etc.

As you see, it really is a “teaching tool” with many features taken straight from the language learning labs, where the practice of teching is that everybody is having the same content (to listen) and then students will carry-out exercise of repeating, practicing their pronouncing, doing listen comprehensive exercise or equivalent. The software makes it possible for the teacher to manage this relatively challenging situation.

The actual software for the Nokia N810 is a version of Sanako’s PC/Windows client working with the Sanako’s server. It is Sanako’s first client for Linux. An interesting piece of information (from the CBR story) is the fact that the client is basically a browser with specific features that enables teacher to take control of students’ devices. Using browser to make this kind of client, is actually pretty interesting solution.

This is a start. Fine. So, what next?

Maybe we also should take a better look of the Mozilla based browser running on Maemo and design and modify a version of the browser for knowledge building, basically to be used with the Fle3/Fle5 server?

Would this make any sense? It would make sense for the Nokia N810 users in schools, and could be a good strategy to get new kind of teaching and learning practice to those schools using the device. On the other hand, Fle3/Fle5 is a web-based solutions and as a such works already on every Internet-browser – also on the Nokia’s Internet tablets.

So, maybe we can say that if the markets would work according to “what makes sense” all schools would already use Fle3/Fle5. But the markets are not always wise. For this reason it could be a good strategy to get on people’s palm and mind through other ways.

I am still dreaming that “knowledge building in your pocket” – something we were demonstrating already seven years ago – will one day become an everyday practice in schools.

Link via Hans – thank you!

One reply on “Handheld Learning Solution”

“knowledge building in your pocket” Hopefully the knowledge building is being done outside of the pockets, too!


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