According to today’s ABC News article, “Army to Deploy iPhones in Combat: Military Could Deploy First Units With BlackBerrys, Androids by Spring,” the US military has not only recognized the constructive power of mobile computers in troops’ pockets but is moving quickly to deploy them into combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

…as early as this spring [2011], the U.S. Army could make iPhones, Androids, Blackberrys and similar devices standard-issue communication and intelligence-gathering tools on the front lines of the world’s most dangerous battlefields.

“This is a profound and fundamental change about how soldiers will be able to access and share information,” said Michael McCarthy, director of the mission command complex of the Army’s Future Force Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Troops with smartphones will be able to use text messages to more closely coordinate with their peers in the field and commanders at remote locations. They’ll also be able to stream real-time surveillance video from overhead drones to more effectively target the enemy, among other advantages, McCarthy said.

Official Army iPhone app

Like teachers and students in our schools, the US Army faces challenges as well as opportunities if it provides mobile computers to soldiers. These devices can be used constructively or destructively. If captured, smartphones could provide enemies of the United States with classified information which could endanger the lives of others. Again according to the article:

WikiLeaks’ ongoing publication of secret government documents leaked by an Army private has heightened concerns over how to keep classified information on smartphones protected from electronic interception or capture during an ambush or kidnapping, Tanner said.

“We’re very concerned about the security, and we’re exploring all solutions,” she said. “It’s not going to be one silver bullet that’s going to fix it, but we are serious about addressing that.”

The military has the capacity to set up its own, secure wireless cellular networks and could encrypt data sent from the field, Tanner said. Individual phones could be password-protected or require biometric features — such as a thumbprint — to log in.

Is your school implementing or in the planning stages of implementing a mobile learning initiative for students as well as teachers? If not, why not? The constructive power of mobile phones to support learning is too powerful to ignore, in our classrooms as well as our military forces. To learn more about why this is true and how mobile phones can be used constructively to support learning at school, see Tony Vincent‘s 2010 K-12 Online Conference presentation, “Project Based Learning in Hand.” According to Tony and TechCrunch, there were 200 million mobile app downloads in 2009 and 5 billion in 2010 to date. Don’t ignore apps and mobile learning as you design and plan for powerful learning experiences at your school. School leaders need to embrace these constructive potentials just as we see US military leaders doing today.

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