Keeping Mobile Phones in Context

Context Aware Cell Phone Project may provide a ray of hope to those that see the use of highly ubiquitous devices like cell phones in K-12 education. The Media Lab @ MIT has a project looking at designing cell phones (among various wearable technologies) with “context awareness”.

If it were possible to build a phone that could determine the user’s circumstances or context, this information could be used to change the phone’s behavior in useful ways. Such a context aware phone could automatically switch profiles when the user enters a restaurant, sits in the driver’s seat of a car, etc.

I think context awareness is just what K-12 education needs to open the gates for use within schools (students already use them out of school for many reasons). What this might look like is having your cell phone detect such things as your location to determine the appropriateness or context of use. For instance, if you were in a public library, a sensor  would recognize that the library was an area that cell phone use for conversations was not acceptable and not allowed. Where the sensors in the lobby or outside the library would detect acceptable use. If schools and classrooms were outfitted to somehow switch user profiles and only allow use during class for web browsing, texting, sharing data/photo/video with teachers or other students within the class, the cell phone could be a more plausible solution to 1-to-1 computing.

Of course, there will always be the human aspect of teaching the etiquette of use… but that’s for a later time.

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