WHEN I TRY TO entice third level students to take their creative multimedia course material home in their pockets, I discover a lot of them don't have 10 euro extra each month for data charges.
The single biggest impediment weighing against more extensive use mobile data is the simple issue of running cost and the price-sensitive region is 10 euro. I see this at home as I try to figure out how to squelch the 16kb data packet that my wife's Nokia N8 exchanges with Vodafone ISP several times a day. We don't use the N8 for data over the air but we pull data over wifi a lot. Something in the setup asks the phone to seek other data options and that causes an extra 10 euro of charges to hit the Vodafone account every month. Like several of my students, my wife has a legacy Eircell account that costs no more than 29 euro a month. When the total monthly bill hits 40 euro beacuse of spurious data, it also hits our household bottom line.
I keep a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc in my pocket and it runs without a SIM. It's unlocked and it likes doing Android things via our free and open campus wifi at LIT-Clonmel. I explain to students how the Irish Exchequer pays for data they're using to make pieces to camera because their campus wifi originates in budgets let by the Minister for Education in Ireland. However, getting a smart Android phone like mine for free means they have to be on an upgrade path or on a new contract. Both things mean they will spend more than 40 euro a month for their mobile phone and they cannot afford that.
So we're looking at producing clever creative multimedia graduates who have never used a mobile phone to seek out local, educational and social touchpoints. I think that's wrong because I know our creative multimedia programme delivers best results when it trains students to operate in the i-media space. Knowing that, I am planning to get a suite of unlocked HD video phones for use on our campus. We cannot afford to let a measly 10 euro constraint impede the professional development of students who need to know their way around mobile social local landscapes.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Active in the above photo works unprotected in the Irish rainy weather.