iStanford and daily lifelong learning


While spending my summer sabbatical at Stanford University beside the inspirational environment and some smaller projects I am working on I recently have tried a bit of iStanford. The mobile phone app of Stanford University, basically it gives you access to:

  • Directory Services all educators, staff, with contact adress, phone, mail and direct integration within your smartphone address book
  • All sports events with schedule, standings, local team news, …
  • Main campus maps, and specialized maps
  • Personal events calendar, from all events yu can add events to your personal calendar directly
  • Videos, and News about Stanford University
  • Treevia, a quiz app about Stanford University 
  • Access to iTunes U directory
  • course directory sorted by departments, completely searchable, bookmarkable and with myClasses logbook
  • Analytics, Intresting Trends, Statistics, New Degrees, Courses and so on
  • CreditU (app in the app store) basically an external app in which you can earn credits for lots of things you do when studying, for example being on time in class. So basically kind of gamification of studying, created by Metaneer.
  • Tours, Account Balance, Images, Library, Stanford Student Radio, Sure Transportation Service on Campus and Emergency Services.

So lots of stuff. Especially interesting probably some apps when reflecting about their potential for a typical life long learner at the OU. So some questions one could ask …

  • What’s about student initiated events "I will go to exhibition XY on following tuesday in Amsterdam. Who wants to join in?"
  • Transportation linking, why not to have a shared train ride or car ride with a study colleague, probably you would even take a later train for a nice chat on the train about your study.
  • Credit U seems a really cool model. What about linking your study to real world events and real world credits? You can earn credits by doing good things or by learning something new you share with others. Or like some approaches you earn credits when you teach someone else?

These are just some starting points, think about more and more people using mobile phones as their personal daily information hub. Some conclusions might be:

1. Linking this with informal and life long learning is one of the easiest and absolutely logical steps. In a recent Artikel in the German Spiegel Online about "How the future of internet will be in 5 years?"  also the relation to more and more services is drawn and a picture of internet giants taking over our complete life organisation from health ensurance, to partner search, to online shopping. Definitely life long learning is linked to a lot of services of daily life (culture, nutrition, health, communication, transportation, leisure). Also especially informal learning is one of the most researched areas of mobile learning.

2. Gamification of learning activities: This has lots of implications not only the direct impact on motivational issues often highlighted in gamification. This definitely also touches aspects of awareness, perception of learning activities, changing attitudes towards community based learning approaches, and to learning in general. What is it worth if we learn something? For whom? What is it good for? Whom can it help?

3. Access in context: If you once have been standing in a foreign town or on campus and your mobile tells you where to go and where you will find your colleagues, whilst making an appointment you will value it. BTW these kinds of interactions and the way of making appointments have already become a commodity for the younger generation.

4. Cloud based is cool, but you need different focused clients to access the cloud otherwise it is just a smart backup solution ;-). You might like the cloud or not. You might setup your own server at home or use one of the big cloud services, in either case without mobile and stationary access to it, it is just a backup for your desktop. So mobile and well designed access to your cloud data and ease of synchronisation is key to a really cloud based life long learning support. The point here is that the average of mobile interaction tome with an app is about 10 sec (see for example the mobile HCI Guidelines for developing apps on iOS). So when you have a service or information need you need it quick, focused, and nothing should get in your way. So that sounds like focused small apps bundled in a mobile app seems like a good idea for the lifelong learner.


more to come …. marcuspecht