Vanderbilt University’s iPhone content portal is an amazing information resource and reveals that the future of mobile learning is HERE for colleges and universities with leaders who understand the implications of and possibilities for convergence in higher education. (Thanks to Karen Montgomery for sharing this link!)

Choices on the website include information about Admissions, Colleges and Schools, the Vanderbilt Medical Center, Athletics, iTunes University offerings by Vanderbilt professors and distinguished speakers, Vanderbilt on YouTube, OAK (Online Access to Knowledge) as well as webmail. Additional tabs at the top offer links to News, Calendar events, and a Search portal. These resources are not only available from a laptop or desktop computer, but also from an iPhone connected to the web via an Edge or WiFi connection. Like other web apps for the iPhone, this entire site was specifically designed for users of iPhones and iTouch mobile computers.

The future of higher education is arriving fast. Is your own K-12 school district still blocking all access to YouTube for both teachers and students? Still struggling to keep students enthralled for eight hours a day, rather than engaged? Still banning cell phones? I spoke with Oklahoma public school students last week who attend class in a district that fines them $10 if they are caught at school with their cell phone. Each subsequent offense increases the fine by $10. Under this system, a student could be fined $10 for a first offense, $20 for a second offense, and $30 for a third offense. The criminal mistake of a student? Possessing a mobile, personal computer while at school.

Thankfully, leaders in higher education (like those at Vanderbilt) understand the positive, constructive potential of leveraging mobile technologies for learning, communication and outreach. Hopefully more leaders in K-12 schools will start noticing these opportunities as well.

I spoke with a teacher today from Oklahoma whose school district is completely eliminating their middle school “multimedia” course for students because of funding shortfalls. That sounds like a great decision for the local school board, since digital technologies are going to go away entirely in our society by the start of the 2008-2009 school year, right?! NOT! Why do so many school district leaders seem to have their heads COMPLETELY buried in the sand when it comes to the need our students have for 21st century skills?

head in the sand

Without 21st century tools, how can we possibly hope our students can cultivate 21st century skills at school? We need 1:1 learning to become a reality for ALL students in our nation after 2nd grade. Yet who will convince our school board members and state legislators?

It’s up to us, and up to our students to not just tell them, but SHOW them. “Digital show and tell” by our students, for their benefit and the benefit of our school board members. It’s a key strategic goal for our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices project. Can our students change the hearts and minds of our school board members when it comes to the importance of digital technologies and learning strategies which strive to engage rather than entrall? Absolutely. Listen to Dr. Rae Niles tell her story about how the Sedgwick school board (in Kansas) came to embrace 1:1 learning, in the COSN panel “Unleashing the Transformational Power of One-to-One Computing in K-12.” There were MANY factors contributing to this 1:1 success story, but the role of students TELLING STORIES and sharing their technology creations with their school board members was pivotal.

We’ll be adding 20 new digital stories to our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices Ning Video collection tomorrow as another project workshop wraps up. If even a few of these teachers return to their communities and help their own students create and safely publish oral history interviews with local community members, we’ll take several steps forward in the digital school reform journey here in Oklahoma.

A digital learning REVOLUTION is underway. Are you on the train, getting on the train, helping drive the train, or sabotaging the rail line by attempting to blow up bridges along the train’s route?

fast train

As for me and my family, we’re on board and negotiating with the conductor for a permanent berth on the sleeper car. We’re here on this train for the long haul. If someone blows up a bridge on our path, we’ll just activate some jet packs so we can fly right over that obstacle and keep on rolling. :-)

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Made with Love in Oklahoma City