Of late I've been wondering how much more mobile phones could develop and offer more functionality to the learner. Over the last six months the leap in technology seems to have been incremental at best with only small differences in the raft of devices released. However, the Motorola Atrix - just announced and demonstrated at CES in Las Vegas - has me very excited about how the mobile phone could be the sole device that students could use for their learning. This video gives an overview of how it can interact with various devices to be used as both a full computer and a multimedia device:
There is a much longer demo here on Engadget showing in more detail how it can interact with a monitor and the latop accessory but I couldn't find a way to embed this on the page. However, it is definitely worth watching through to get a real sense how this can be used.
I love the idea of having one device that can be used for all your computing and multimedia needs. I can see a time in the not too distant future where schools no longer have computers in their classrooms or computer rooms but instead a series of dumb terminals/laptops where students can just dock their phone and have all their content immediately available to them. None of this worrying where that document is or whether they've put that Powerpoint presentation onto their USB stick. Instead, everything is stored on their phone or in the cloud and can be instantly available on a larger screen simply by dropping it into a dock.
What might this mean in the language classroom? Well, imagine a student want to share some photos/videos they've taken with their phone camera and to talk about them. They no longer have to transfer them over to a computer or upload them to You Tube or anything like that, they could simply show them immediately on a large screen TV/monitor/projector in class. As a teacher you could use your phone to record students' discussions/presentations and have them immediately available for whole class analysis. I'm sure there are many other scenarios that could be imagined..
This is going to be an exciting year for mobile devices. More and more tablets like the iPad are coming to market and they are going to be much more affordable for students. Mobile phones are going to get more and more powerful to the point where they will be able to do 90-95% of the computing tasks (email, web-browsing, document editing etc) that people do. As teachers we would be foolish to ignore these wonderful devices and how they can be used to create rich and meaningful lessons for our students.