Friday, September 11, 2009

Barriers to technology accessibility a myth?

I was reading an article recently on the 5 Myths of Mobile Learning. While I somewhat agree with most of what is said, I take issue with the "Accessibility and Cost Myth"

This was perhaps one of the stranger myths I encountered, that personal mobile computing devices are inaccessible because of the inherent cost barriers. Looking around me here in India at the amazing rate of adoption of mobile devices (see Mobile Learning in India) and the availability of mobile networks capable of data that now range contiguously across India (see Networks in Rural India), its obvious cost is hardly a factor in the mobile learning equation. Phones today cost far less than they ever did, do far more and are cheaper to use because network usage charges are dropping consistently. These factors contribute to increased technology availability and subsequent adoption.


I think that it depends on what the meaning of Mobile is, and even then there are accessibility constraints. Not everyone carries around an iPod, or a phone that can play back pre-recorded audio. Not everyone carries a phone with a color screen and not everyone carries a device with them that gives them access to the internet.

While phones can be cheap (free with a subscription, or cheap with prepaid), that doesn't mean that all phones have the same capabilities. For mobile learning I would probably use something like an iPhone, S60, or Android device. Those phones do cost at least $100 and if you factor in a network connection, that would set you back another $30/month at least. Can everyone afford this? I don't think so.
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