Writing the Future: How Digital Books Will Change the World and Going Mobile: Building for the New Mobility

Dr Williiam Rankin
27 April 2010

Writing the Future: How Digital Books Will Change the World


Almost six centuries ago, when Gutenberg's press first made printed information widely available, the world saw an explosion of creativity. Educational, political, and religious institutions that had calcified over centuries were radically transformed as those who had once been excluded found new opportunities to participate. The resulting transformation unleashed the waves of invention that created the modern world. Unfortunately, the mechanisms are going rusty again, and new generations are finding themselves locked outside. People feel alienated, disengaged, overwhelmed... Yet a new generation of mobile technologies is emerging to reenergize the system and the first true digital books–books that are location-aware, media-rich, broadly-interlinked, and socially-connected–are just on the horizon, offering a kind of access never seen before. Bill Rankin explored the ways that books are metamorphosing and consider the rich creative possibilities the new digital Gutenberg will bring in the coming information age.

Going Mobile: Building for the New Mobility


Increasingly, our world relies on mobile devices for communications, work, and play–and people are increasingly recognising the flexibility and power these devices bring to teaching and learning in the higher education sector. Devices like the iPhone, iPod touch, and now the iPad offer incredible opportunities, but this new generation of mobile technology also requires a robust infrastructure and new ways of conceptualising and implementing mobility to have its maximum impact. Focusing around two years of experience at a medium sized American University, Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Abilene, Texas, with a pervasive 1-to-1 environment based on the iPhone and iPod touch, this lecture introduced some of the research, strategies, and solutions necessary for putting these powerful next-generation tools in the hands of lecturers and students. How must IT support be reimagined? How should services and networks be reorganized? What are the killer apps and approaches for teaching and learning?

Dr. William Rankin is an associate professor of English and Director of Educational Innovation at Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Abilene, Texas. Along with colleagues George Saltsman and Dr. Kyle Dickson, he helped design the initiative that became ACU Connected, ACU’s pioneering one-to-one that gave every student an iPhone or iPod touch as a platform for exploring next-wave mobile learning. As part of this initiative, Rankin has worked on everything from defining pedagogical approaches to designing interface elements, and along with others on ACU's team, Rankin continues to work to discover and create new ways to engage learners through mobile technology.

ACU’s efforts have received a number of accolades, including winning 2009’s New Media Consortium’s Center of Excellence award, ACUTA’s Institutional Excellence award, and Alcatel-Lucent’s Dynamic Enterprise and Analyst Choice awards. As project lead, Rankin was named Campus Technology’s Innovator of the Year for mobile learning in 2008. In 2009, he was named an Apple Distinguished Educator and in 2010, he was named to Apple's ADE Board of Directors. Interviews with Rankin have appeared in such periodicals as Wired, The Guardian, and The Chronicle for Higher Education and at online sites including InsideHigherEd, TUAW, and Open Culture. Rankin has also contributed to stories featured on US National Public Radio, the BBC, the CBC and NBC Nightly News. With more than 20 years’ experience in higher education, Dr. Rankin has received numerous awards for teaching and has presented on the implications of mobility and emerging educational technologies throughout the world.