Move over WiFi, here comes GiFi

While playing with Newspond, I came across information on the wireless protocol that is going to turn your student's cell phone into more of a computing workhorse than ever.

Here comes GiFi
Interestingly, this technology named GiFi, invented by our friends down in Australia, and is supposed to replace WiFi. This technology uses a different spectrum than WiFi and is supposed to be allow a whopping 5Giga Bits per Second for up to 10 Meters. (ZdNet)

Can you say, streaming HD?
They believe this will make it possible for us to live streaming HD wirelessly as well as a virtual connection to a docking station that would let your laptop display on multiple displays AND access non-internal hard drive storage.

The article says it won't be here until 2009 but the target price for this chip is $10 — yes, $10 which it means it can be in pretty much anything.

What it means for education
I've been continually saying that one day, we're going to be REQUIRING kids to bring their cell phones to school, particularly as they fully converge with computing devices of all kinds. (Their textbooks will be loaded, infrared keyboards will make it easier to type in them, and all of their data and homework will travel in these things.)

Get at behavior
No longer just fuzzy recordings to youtube (see Spies Like Us), kids will be able to live stream from cell phone to HD tv's around the world.

We need to fully discuss and integrate digital citizenship at all levels. I think the reasons we're having so many problems with cyberbullying, hacking, and other behaviors, is because most schools largely ignore technology and relegate it to the “computer teacher's job.”

As cell phones, computers, digital paper, and even computing surfaces integrate fully with our lives, we will see that these are part of everything we do and should indeed be a part of every subject.

And, remember, I don't advocate gadgets for the sake of gadgets (See Washington Post Article – Too High on Gizmos) — more gadgets don't always mean better grades.

I'm sure that my miniscule $25,000 technology budget makes my vendors snicker behind my back. (That includes everything from internet connection to antivirus renewals.) However, it is the connection with the world that makes our program world class, not the hardware.

Hardware (and to some extent software) is becoming a commodity.

Increasingly, its presence does not guarantee that a school will be “leading edge.” It is the USE of technology that determines the success of a school and the future success of its students.

Too many IT directors bemoan the dusty smartboards and unused laptops. (See info on the Montreal School Board that did just this.)

We need to work on behavior and bring these tools out of the bathrooms and closets and pockets where kids can literally text without our knowledge. Let's teach their effective use and also teach and promote self control.

Are cell phones disruptive? Yes. (For that matter, laptops can be too.)

Is it going to get worse? Yes. (It depends on how you define, “worse.” Losing battle – yes — great for your technology budget if you start thinking about it!)

Are we going to do something to help our students know when to use these tools and how? Only you can answer that question

I think it is time to start harnessing these tools. I don't have all the answers and we still “ban” cell phones and ipods in all places but my classroom, but I keep thinking that we've got to get to a more stable, workable solution with these little “monsters.”


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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Ric Murry February 23, 2008 - 11:03 pm

Nice work Vicki.

I was talking to some colleagues a couple weeks ago, and a comment from Person 1 was how “disruptive cell phones are in everyday life.”

Person 2 said she was reading how some teachers were thinking about having students use them in class. Person 1 replied, “That is ridiculous. The classroom is no place for a cell phone.”

I asked why, and Person 1 said, “I just told you how disruptive they are to everyday life. Can you imagine phone ringing in the classroom.”

Person 2 replied, “Hey, pencil sharpeners are disruptive too.”

Now for the kicker, Person 1 is in her 20s, Person 2 is in her late 30s or early 40s (not sure – and I know not to ask). I am 45, and want back in the classroom so I can demonstrate proper use of phone capabilities for learning and proper digital citizenship.

I found a great resource or cell phones in learning from Liz Kolb. Her site is

Enjoy Illinois…my home state.

Kelly Christopherson February 23, 2008 - 10:02 pm

You are so correct when you say it’s not the hardware but the use of what you have that counts. One can do so much with very little. With all the access to online tools and great ideas that are on the web, it is possible to be able to do leading edge projects without having all the leading edge equipment. Too often people get caught up in looking at the “Jones” and trying to keep up with the “stuff” instead of being content with what is there and working with it. As for the GiFi, it will be interesting to see how education IT departments react to this. I can’t get WiFi in our school because of security issues which really limits what we can do. As many of us are in struggles for access to different tools, maybe something like this will be enough to tip the scales in our favour. Thanks for sharing and for your input!

Benjamin Baxter February 24, 2008 - 10:25 pm

How useful could this be if it only works up to 32 feet (10 meters)? That might cover a classroom or two, but not much more than that.

The receiver chip is only $10, but I’m betting that the transmitter chip and the associated technology with that is more expensive.

It won’t be here by 2009, and chances are that the real version won’t be nearly as exciting as the hypothetical one.

teacher dude February 24, 2008 - 5:49 pm

This comment has been removed by the author.

loonyhiker February 24, 2008 - 11:12 pm

I can’t wait to see GiFi in action (with me using it!). This past week I observed classrooms and was thrilled to see students engaged in learning with the use of Promethean Boards. I think we are slowly moving in the right direction (but the slowness is killing me!)

teacher dude February 24, 2008 - 10:03 pm

I already ask my students to bring their cell phones to class. They’re an invaluable tool for language learning since they allow us to get instant feedback via their video/audio recording facility.

I joke that I’m the only teacher in Greece who insists they have their phones in class.

Sue Ellen Alford February 29, 2008 - 3:10 pm

It is interesting to note, that the question still seems to be not about the ability of technology but over the use of it. Cell phones are disruptive, but behaviors like tapping of a pencil, passing of notes and students squirming are as well. We should not dismiss technology helpfulness because it may annoy us. Setting grounds rules on use of technology within the classroom could be a start.

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