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A Mobile Learning Platform Matrix
June 13, 2011 - 9:30pm
  Full Laptop (Windows / Mac) Tablet (iPad / Android / PlayBook / others?) Smart Phone (Android / iPhone / Blackberry / others?) UltraBooks (Google Chromebook, Coming Products) Pros Full interaction with LMS. Flash support. Built in webcam. Typing for discussion board / blog. Ability to access gradebook and read attached Office assignments. Good device for consuming content in LMS. Can view all LMS course materials. Light and thin, so more portable than laptops. Long battery life. Instant on. Less susceptible to viruses than full computers. Possible, but difficult, to interact on discussion boards and blogs. Great portability. WiFi and 3G access means ability to access LMS from almost anywhere. Full keyboard and screen in a lightweight, portable package. ~3 pounds. Good device for creating content and participating in LMS collaborative tools. Full browser support. Flash browser support for media and synchronous meetings. Built in webcam. Long battery life (~8.5 hours) on Chromebook. Solid state reliability. Can serve as a backup machine to a full laptop to ensure uninterrupted access to Blackboard. Cons Weight and size, shorter battery life, no "instant on", spinning disk drives more fragile, full OS more virus prone, no built in cellular modem iPad no Flash support, limiting some video playback and synchronous meeting usage. Possible to read submitted attachments, but difficult to comment and write on. Phone browsers not good for reading LMS discussion boards or blogs. Challenge to author or add content to the LMS. Difficult or impossible to read assignment attachments. Your university may not have an LMS mobile app deployed. Not as portable as tablets or smart phones. May have difficulty working in productivity applications such as Word or Excel. Chrome is not an "officially" supported browser for every LMS, although in my testing it works well. Next generation of UltraBooks not available yet. Chromebook is first generation. Costs ~$1,500 to $2,000. Would need a cellular modem and data plan to ensure wireless access. ~$500, but ~$50 a month data plan for cellular modems. ~$200 to buy, $75 a month data/talk plan. ~$500. Chromebook includes Verizon 3G coverage (100MB a month). Additional cellular data plans available from $20 to $50 a month. Considerations MacBook Air or other ultraportable full laptops may be an option, if paired with a cellular modem. Costs are relatively high iPad dominates this market, although new Android tablets with smaller form factors may gain traction. iPads are primary consumption devices, and size is too large to carry in a pocket. A native mobile LMS app seems to be critical here, but these apps are at early stages of development and deployment. The most portable solution. New category of product, so hand-on experience is absent. Rapidly changing product category, with new products becoming available over the next year. Unclear if pros of smaller weight / size, instant access, and built in 3G connectivity offer a compelling enough ROI to justify buying in addition to a laptop (is the form factor too similar?).

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