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What do you use your phone for?

July 2nd, 2012 by Graham Attwell

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to be invited to speak at a seminar in Teneriffe. And despite the short time I spent on the island, I met some wonderful people full of great ideas. But one thing did go wrong. i left my mobile phone in a restaurant. It was found the next day. But postal services from Teneriffe to Germany are it seems rather slow and it took three weeks to reach me.

Three weeks without my phone was interesting. I do not view myself as a heavy user of either phones (I mainly use skype for talking to people) or of the different services provided on an Android Smartphones (a Samsung S2). Indeed since there are only three or four people with whom I have regular phone conversations i could not see the lack of my phone for three or so weeks as a real problem.

How wrong I was. The first problem I hit was the lack of an alarm clock. Of course I~ used to have several clocks but I got rid of those several years ago. Who needs a clock when you have a phone. And in fact I found my hand kept straying into my pocket to get out my phone to find out the time. I used to have a watch. But who needs a watch when you have a mobile phone.

The absence of Apps was not really a problem. And neither was lack of access to programs like Google Maps. the truth is these are mots useful when traveling and because of the high cost fo data for roving in Europe I tend to turn data packet transfers off when out of Germany. This problem is slowly being overcome by the availability of high speed and free wifi, although even wifi can be expensive in some hotels.

But I really missed the mobile when I was traveling. The entire workflow of traveling with a phone is completely different than when not having one. Not just to be able to use the Deutsch Bahn to check up on late trains although that is useful. But more how and where to meet people. We have taken for granted that we just text or phone somebody when we arrive to arrange when to meet. Without a phone all this has to be scheduled in advance. Where to meet, when to meet, what to do if one of us is late etc. I suppose prior to mobile days we must have done this. But I seem to have forgotten how (perhaps that is what the meeting place signs are for at stations and airports!).

I think it is important to understand the different ways in which we are using mobile devices in our daily living and work and particularly how they form part of the workflow in work processes. Because if we want to embed learning within the work process and to use technology to support learning, these may be the critical points in which learning can play a role and that technology can support. And we need learning apps that can adapt to changes in the work flow as work processes change and we change the way we use technology to support those work processes.

 

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