Being Mobile | Blog

Being Mobile: The Rationale for Our Blog

Today, as the planet moves headlong into the Age of Mobilism, K-12 schools ignore mobile technologies at the school’s peril. But what to do? Our mission in this blog is to provide ideas, visions, strategies, tips, and resources to help schools be mobile savvy and take advantage of the opportunities mobile technologies afford!

Is mobile a fad that schools can safely ignore – or are we moving headlong into the Age of Mobilism, where mobile is the defining technology of our times and schools will be at peril for ignoring it? Two years ago the answer was more or less clear: do ignore. 52 weeks ago the answer was again more or less clear: do NOT ignore.

Today, 365 days later… let’s see:

  • It is predicted that by 2016 there will be more computing devices running Android than Windows, thus replacing Windows as the dominant operating system.[1]
  • It is predicted that by 2015 “more end users will access the Internet through a mobile device than a PC…”. [2]
  • The Age of Mobilism … “is driving among the largest shifts in consumer behavior over the last forty years. Impressively, its rate of adoption is outpacing both the PC revolution of the 1980s and the Internet Boom of the 1990s…. [in summer of 2011] the average smartphone user, for the first time ever, began spending more time in their mobile applications than they do browsing the web.. Updating the analysis [1/2012], Flurry finds the usage gap continues to widen.” [3]
  • And to cap it all off: “Smartphone shipments top PC shipments in Q4 2010”.[4] VERY fast forward to Q3 of 2012: “Manufacturers shipped twice as many smartphones as PCs”. [5, our emphasis] If one includes tablets with the smartphones, PCs are oh so yesterday.

Is mobile a fad? NOT A CHANCE!

And, more importantly, schools actually are no longer ignoring mobile. In 2010, we (Cathie and Elliot) made a very public prediction: By 2015, every student in every classroom in every grade in every school in the United States would be using a mobile device 24/7 for curricular purposes. The reaction, genteelly put, that prediction received then was some form of “scoffed at.” Today – a mere 104 weeks later – we stand by that prediction. Indeed, you can take that prediction to the bank!

Consistent with the state of mobile in 2010, our blog was entitled “Going Mobile.” But, given the comments above, we feel a new title is warranted and appropriate: Being Mobile. We are indeed on the leading edge of the Age of Mobilism. While mobile has already wrought all manner of changes in our daily lives, from spending more time using apps on our glued-to-hand smartphone than using a browser to visit websites, from communicating with friends primarily through voice calls to communicating with friends through collaborative games, texting. But, as the saying goes: we ain’t seen nothing yet!

Soon this doormat [6] will be a reminder of things past: keys? wallet? Gone the way of the rotary phone.

We recently asked primary school children in Singapore who have used smartphones for two years what was the most important function provided by the smartphones and the universal answer was: we could look up stuff on the Internet – ourselves. No longer does their teacher or their textbook mediate a student’s connection to the world; rather, mobile technologies enable school children to instantly, directly, immediately connect through the Internet to information, data, places, people, locations, events, machines, money, government, etc., etc., etc. Mobile technologies will engender the biggest change in primary and secondary education in the last 200 years. No No; the blog is entitled “Being Mobile.” Thus, a more appropriate claim is: mobile technologies are engendering…

Ignore mobile? Hardly, but the speed of the transition from “ignore mobile” to “you can’t possibly ignore mobile” – at most 104 weeks – has left some educators in the digital dust but has left most educators -- busy people even in good times – scrambling to keep up. Since we have been devoting 200+ percent of our time, energies, thoughts, and classroom experiences to “mobile learning” – since about 1998 – we feel we can offer you, readers of this blog, help in understanding and using mobile technologies in your schools and classrooms. That’s our mission, then, in this blog: provide strategies, tactics, tidbits, etc. for using mobile learning in today’s K-12 classroom. Help us to help you; please tell us what you want to know about in mobile learning – we are on it; indeed, we are “being mobile.” Thank you for interest!


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About the Authors

Cathie Norris is a Regents Professor and Chair in the Department of Learning Technologies, School of Information at the University of North Texas. Visit her site at

Elliot Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of CSE, College of Engineering, at the University of Michigan. Visit his site at

Find more from Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris at their Reinventing Curriculum blog at