Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Videoconferencing coming cell phones near you

AT&T’s Video Share technology is a harbinger of technologies rapidly coming to a cell phone near you. According to a June 19, 2007 press release:

Ultimately, services such as Video Share will be accessible over any of the three primary screens that customers use most frequently — the wireless device, the PC and the television. Today AT&T Labs researchers are perfecting service enhancements that eventually will enable wireless video feeds to be shared over IPTV or PC screens.

At the workshop I shared yesterday in Tulsa about videoconferencing and virtual field trips, teachers created some wiki pages about virtual field trips they thought would appeal to their own students or other teachers in their buildings. Traditional videoconferencing (H.323) remains complicated in large degree due to network security / firewall configurations in school districts, but the possibilities for interactive videoconferencing continue to expand. Imagine a college student studying abroad or another person you know (or made contact with through a social network like The Global Education Collaborative Ning) connecting back to you and the students in your classroom using just cell phone technologies? That scenario is more realistic today than ever before!

cell phone in hand

Is your school district blocking Skype and preventing you from participating in desktop videoconferencing with other teachers or students around the world? The availability of a cell phone and a fast 3G network will permit more people (inside and outside of schools) to circumvent those attempts at coercively controlling user behavior via network content filters and firewall settings. There ARE good reasons for schools to take a layered approach to protecting their resources and users from digital “threats” inside and outside their networks, because the networking environment IS more hostile than ever before. (For more on layered network security defense, check out the article which begins on page 4 of Juniper’s most recent edition of its Veer magazine in PDF format.) I think it is interesting, however, and somewhat amusing, to see consumer-level, accessible (reasonably affordable) technologies continuing to proliferate which offer more options and alternatives to people (including teachers and students) wanting to make connections with others. It is my hope and contention that potentially “disruptive technologies” like this can and should challenge us to not simply block, ban, and prohibit the use of digital tools within learning environments, but rather challenge us as educators to reinvent the traditionally passive, teacher-directed model of instruction into a more collaborative, engaging, and truly learner-centered model for learning.

For more on the topic of collaborative videoconferencing, see my TechLearning blog post from February 2007, “The future of collaborative videoconferencing.”

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One response to “Videoconferencing coming cell phones near you”

  1. Brian Crosby Avatar

    Wes – saw this at NECC:

    Thought you might be interested.