HANDHELD LEARNERS in Tipperary Institute have taught me that the real-time aspect of online life is a smokescreen. When given a choice of being online and connected for a lecture or online and observing asynchronously, the rewound experience always takes the biscuit. And who could blame someone for this conclusion? Why get up and go to a 0900 class when you can get the two hours reduced to several five minute chunks and pushed to you over a side order of chips by Mobanode? A portion of my social networking class happens in real time via Qik or Online Meeting Rooms. Those are often rough cuts, marred by miscues and poor production values because I ask trainees to record and produce content under time pressures during classroom tutorials. In many cases, it's an invitation for overboosted tedium. The most compelling part of doing a live production is meeting people on screen in real time. You become aware of the presence of others because Qik shows you the number of viewers and lets viewers ask questions on screen. You can see and hear others seated inside Online Meeting Rooms too and they can stop you in full flow and ask questions in much the same way as someone physically present in the lecture hall. When tweeting lectures live, you can toggle over to Google Buzz or use a Twitter client to become aware of the presence of others who happen to be within 20 miles of your location. That's interesting, and sometimes compelling when you consider trying to co-ordinate presence by inviting others over to your place.
Handheld learners like to dabble with mobile social coordination but my cadre of mobile learners are just learning to trust what they see on their mobile screens so it will take some time for them to actually trust the machine intelligence embedded in social networking applications. And as they come to grips with the two-way flow on their handsets, they can see how "real-time" is actually "near-time" and that "geolocation" is often masked by GPS errors or manually set locations. Nonetheless, this real-time flow can entice people to hang with the flow longer than just seeing a threaded conversation. Real-time is enables the social web and it engenders communities. This community enablement is bigger than an iPhone app. It's larger than all the capability that Nokia or Google bring to the table of the social web. And because it's so big, it demands the involvement of creative students who want to help define what's important in how real-time is presented to their handsets.
In my modules at Tipperary Institute, I try to expose the surface of the real-time web by experimenting with handsets and by crashing applications by stress-testing the technology. I succeed in this because our tutorial experiences look like social media experiments. When considered as part of a process, I know that the technologieis we have to hand and the proficiencies we try to train are part of the evolution of how we will use location-based education in 2020. It would be helpful to connect with others who are in this space so I head over to Limerick OpenCoffee and hang out with people who truly understand the third screen. Not the 42" inch screen in a sitting room or the 17" laptop screen but the 3.5" inch screen in a purse or a pocket. That third screen is truly pulling creative handheld learners onto the real-time web where the community mashes up "small pieces loosely joined" by pushing the pieces through a live stream of atom entries.
Now it's back to preparing for my next classroom session.
Pushed to my third screen using my Nokia E90 Typepad application inside Tipperary Institute. [Foursquare Venue 237081]