October 06, 2008

New Nintendo DS: another option for 1-2-1

Nintendo_dsi Of all the gaming consoles out there the one I always come back to is the Nintendo DS. It's small, its touchscreen means I don't even need to use a stylus, and the battery life is astounding. The new Nintendo DSi which has just been announced in Japan, due for launch in Europe in the Spring of 2009, opens up the potential even more for the use of gaming consoles as part of a one-to-one computing initiative, for the same price as the current model.

At the recent Emerge 1-2-1 Conference in Calgary, I made the point that I didn't feel the future was in laptops, despite the strong belief from other speakers that the laptop was the only "spread bet" option for learning, able to cope with the maximum demands of the classroom and home. I've always felt that mix and match is the best way forward, much in the same way as we tend to use technology in 'real' life: the right tool for the right job.

Cue the new Nintendo, with its built-in camera and web browser. For most web browsing a small screen and awkward navigation is fine, because most people are not blogging 1000 word theses, but they are Googling and then reading. For most photography in the classroom you don't need high-spec cameras. Learning logs need quick snapshots of progress, and the 0.3 megapixels of the DS, while paling in comparison to most camera phones, will suffice for this purpose.

Wiiwii have a really complete rundown of the new Nintendo DSi. The pic is from Wired, and therefore used illegally here, but I'm going to pay for it with a link to the shovelloads of liveblogging goodness of the moment the new model was unveiled.

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As I understand it the DSi also has a web browser built in - which is fantastic news.

The only problem with the DSi is that lack of any 3rd Party software that can be downloaded from the net.

It is great to see that the DSi will come with an SD slot for loading MP3s - perhaps this is also a place for software - maybe eventually for downloaded software?

I hope that Nintendo will launch an open software platform and a distribution mechanism - like the store for the Wii. If this happened then your vision for the DSi would come true as smaller developers will be able to create the niche software that is needed to give the device a wide amount of education support across subjects and student levels of experience.

If software for the device remains only in the hands of bigger players who can make and distribute software on cartridges then I doubt the educational value will go beyond Maths with Dr Kawashima and similar.

While traveling this past week alot on Japanese trains and subways, I saw every time I rode at least one person deeply focused on their DES. My friends there showed my a really nifty app they used to learn how to write / read Kanji:
http://www.appleotaku.com/2008/08/12/using-the-nintendo-ds-to-learn-kanji/

The little bit I saw showed how "smart" it was as a learning platform, with an intuitive UI and lots of feedback.

I also had interesting conversations with some college students who shared their use of technology- none of them had, used, or saw a reason for a computer, as all they needed/wanted to do was on their mobile phone -- mostly communication or small games- they call it "email" but its really what they call "short email" like a sent SMS.

They are wired students who have leaped over the computer as platform.

Sounds pretty cool Ewan my son has already requested one!

I believe they will also also have Nintendo WiFi available in most McDonald's in Japan. It'll be interesting to see how that spreads out. Due to the iPhone's stagnation here, it'll be an interesting parallel.

And definitely agree with the sentiment about piecemeal technology applications. Buying an art student a tablet for their home computer or a camera for an avid photographer will surely bring more millage back compared to a gray laptop.

Laptops are all about big, easily visible plans that may or may not have any impact on student learning. I grilled a room full of 1-to-1 facilitators at Learning 2.0 and, sadly, came out with few answers :(

I'm a big Nintendo fan and I'm excited to have this New Nintendo DS that I can use wherever I go, especially when I'm out of town.

I really want a DS. I might be getting one for christmas. I am going to do the tutpup comp and the 100 word story too.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

His company, NoTosh Limited, invests in tech startups and film on behalf of public and private investors, works with those companies to build their creative businesses, and takes the lessons learnt from the way these people work back into schools and universities across the world.

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