Device agnosticism in the age of the app!
Accessibility any time and anywhere to information through technological devices is a prevalent trend that is wanted and often expected in today’s society. McKenney in their blog ‘Apps and agnostic device advantages in mobile learning’ defines an ‘agnostic device’ as, “A component that is compatible with most any other components (or systems)” (2012, para 1.). This definition supports the value of ‘accessibility’ through which individuals do not want to be limited to technology that does not allow “movement” between environments. Therefore, it is no surprise that the capacity to have clear, immediate access to fulfil an information need is an objective that is incorporated in the design of devices and software to support the “mobile” nature of present users. One of the most common refers to the “app” (application) which is present predominantly on iPads and smartphones. ‘Apps’ are a “tile” on the interface of small handheld devices, but they link to a wider scope of information content and skills for both recreational and working purposes.
In consideration of the progression of technology, device agnosticism seems a logical step in the process. It mirrors the needs of users in their work and home environments, for example, utilising mobile phones, personal assistant devices, iPads, and other devices for emailing, making bank payments, storing documents and accessing the web (Educause, 2010b, p. 1). One example being the app ‘Dropbox’ from which relevant documents can be securely located and encourages the view of a ‘space’ that organises and removes ‘file scattering’ across multiple devices (Miller, 2005, para. 21). It can be assumed that the increasing ‘mobility of access’ has encouraged work practices to merge into other activities, and therefore removing the concept of “working” from an office desk or physical space (Educause, 2010b, p. 2).
Additionally however, it provides a supportive framework for self-learning in which individuals can take images, write notes, access resources and other aspects where they are able. For example, reading lecture notes from an iPad on a form of transport. For learning, it has enhanced and suited the variances in user needs which can generally only be seen as a benefit (McKenney, 2012). However it has had a form of “domino effect” in the sense that the communication and user habits of students interacting with apps and mobile IT has encouraged change in the design of learning practices and experiences (Educause, 2010a, p. 2).
Learning apps for example have shown to recognise and support the diversity of learners. For example, the ‘Prologuo2Go’ communication app and the ‘Choiceworks’ visual schedule app is supportive of those with autism or language communication difficulties (Jordan, 2013). An indirect factor that has occurred alongside the value of these apps for supporting learning needs, is the advent of communication and discussion among professionals to enhance the quality and sharing of relevant information and valued ‘apps’ and programs. Additionally, it supports ease of access and use through technology that is predominantly touch-based.
The idea of having mobile technology is not wholly selfish in nature and has been adopted in various contexts. Multiple information services, the Smithsonian, being one recognised example is adapting to this landscape by their aim to, “Recruit the world to further the increase and diffusion of knowledge” (Proctor, 2011, p. 4). Higher order thinking, learning and communication skills that relate to: research, communication, collaboration, connect, update, engage, access, use, and create in association to the museum and research filled collection (Proctor, 2011, p. 7). In addition, to encouraging a ‘sense of responsibility’ in individual users and groups to build, construct and share knowledge creatively and critically, it advances the importance of and application of device agnosticism.
The age of the ‘app’ emphasises that a ‘touch of a button’ from a device encourages open access to generally any virtual environment. It encourages the management of information and time by an individual, but it has also influenced the social landscape and the nature of how we as individuals interact with “the world”. For example, issues of “geographical space” are overcome by the level of access now available from anywhere or at anytime. The ‘app’ has enhanced and characterised this trend, and it can be presumed that sustainable practice encourages the “mobility” of individuals to be improved by continual technological developments.
Educause. (2010a). 7 things you should know about… mobile apps for learning. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7060.pdf
Educause. (2010b), 7 things you should know about… mobile IT. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EST1002.pdf
Jordan, P. (2013, April 10). 10 great iPad apps for students on the autism spectrum [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://ipadinsight.com/ipad-in-education-2/10-great-ipad-apps-for-students-on-the-autism-spectrum/
McKenney, L. (2012, April 5). Apps and agnostic device advantages in mobile learning [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://meridianknowledgesolutions.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/apps-and-agnostic-device-advantages-in.html
Miller, S. (2005, October 10). 20 amazing iPad apps for educators [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.universityreviewsonline.com/2005/10/20-amazing-ipad-apps-for-educators.html?doing_wp_cron
Proctor, N. (2011). Recruiting the world: Mobile strategy at the Smithsonian. Retrieved from http://smithsonian-webstrategy.wikispaces.com/file/view/DRAFT-SIMobilestrategyDec2011.pdf