Think back to the carpel tunnel days of taking endless lecture notes in class. Using technology, you can now walk into a classroom equipped with a Smart Screen (rear projection of course, front loaded LCD projection is so last century). You walk up to the computer and take out the PowerPoint that you have stored on the keydrive hanging from your keychain. Pop that into the USB and get going. Now, a good instructor will tell the students not to bother with taking notes...that only takes the concentration away from the subject and inhibits interaction. The Smart Screen lets you annotate the PowerPoint on the screen, and you can simply print out the notes for students afterwards. Of course, it would be better to upload the notes to your Portal so that students can access and download them 24/7. Did I forget to mention that the video camera was running throughout the class? A simple upload to a source like YouTube can create a podcast that students can play over as many times as they wish.
So what does this have to do with the glitzy glam of an iPhone? Well of course those podcasts can be viewed on an iPod, any browser equipped cell phone, computer or MP3 player. But you, the technology inspired instructor, can't wait to do it on your very own iPhone. Or is that the voices in my head again? It's the fever, I tell you. I made it through the Blackberry fever of the 00's, but this one may be the ONE. Until the next 'gotta have it' comes out.
Update 7/27/07: I have succumbed to the fever: Oh yes, it is as cool as it looks, and inspires phone envy wherever one goes. It is different enough that strangers tend to come up to you and ask, 'can I touch it?' Amazing. Are there issues?
Oh yes. I'm sure that subsequent versions will fix things like memory and battery life. The touch keyboard takes time to get used to, but the Apple promise of about a week to get used to it seems about right. And it is much easier than other text messaging phones.
But it also employs one of the best subliminal marketing ploys I've seen in a long time. Sure, the commercials are enticing, but the best marketing comes with every SMS text and email message sent via the iPhone: a subtle line which says: 'This message is sent from my iPhone.' It's really hard to avoid the subsequent "YOU have an iPhone???" Oh yes, they are good. And it seems to be working quite well.
There are blogs and chat sites dedicated solely to the iPhone. It isn't often that a tech gadget takes the world by storm. Yes, the original sales estimates were over-inflated, and the problems understated. But it is an instrument of change, and that never ceases to fascinate. And in education, its promise is as big as its hype. Hopefully, there are enough cutting edge educators to make that promise a reality.