Leveraging Mobile Technology To Achieve Teaching Goals

Leveraging Mobile Technology to Achieve Teaching Goals

The sudden move to remote online instruction, coupled with social justice issues plaguing the United States, has forced college and university instructors to grapple with what it means to be a good teacher in socially distanced, unpredictable, and emotionally charged circumstances.

As instructional designers, we have noticed an undercurrent in our interactions with new and experienced university instructors that indicates they are doubting their teaching skills, confronting uncomfortable questions about their roles, making pedagogical decisions on the fly, and trying to use technologies that were once only written into science fiction novels.

While the move to remote teaching has been challenging, it has also provided an opportunity to reenvision pedagogy. As colleges and universities have collectively moved online, teaching and learning professionals can leverage mobile learning (m-learning) to inform and facilitate effective teaching in a virtual environment.

Mobile learning: Using portable computing devices (such as iPads, laptops, tablet PCs, personal digital assistants [PDAs], and smartphones) with wireless networks enables mobility and mobile learning, allowing teaching and learning to extend to spaces beyond the traditional classroom. Within the classroom, mobile learning gives instructors and learners increased flexibility and new opportunities for interaction.Footnote1

Contemporary m-learning definitions and discourse focus on using technologies that support the mobility of learners and teachers and that are based on constructivist and learner-centered pedagogies that promote individualization, flexibility, and communal engagement with content regardless of whether a course is online or face-to-face. To benefit from affordances like these, Yu (Aimee) Zhang, CEO of WEMOSOFT in Wollongong, Australia, recommends using m-learning in formal higher education to supplement face-to-face or online classes.Footnote2 Near-ubiquitous mobile-device ownership and a stable combination of agile technological infrastructure and widespread internet connectivity offer opportunities for the key affordances and strategies of m-learning to take center stage during the coronavirus pandemic.Footnote3 That is not to say that all students (or instructors) have fully equitable opportunities to access tertiary education through mobile devices—as the pandemic has revealed—but it does emphasize the current collective ability among colleges and universities to maintain a somewhat reasonable level of instructional continuity—something that would not have been possible just ten years ago.Footnote4

Amid the challenges of emergency remote teaching and learning, college and university instructors confront a complex set of pedagogical decisions as they try to balance the affordances and constraints of technologies with student access, learning outcomes, and the instructor’s teaching goals.

Our Mobile Learning Special Interest Research Group has been investigating this pedagogical balancing act for a few years, and although our participants were teaching face-to-face classes before the pandemic, our findings about the ability of instructors to achieve their teaching goals via m-learning remain applicable—and possibly more relevant—today.Footnote5

Teaching Goals: Prevalent Themes

As instructional designers, part of our work focuses on supporting instructors as they integrate technologies to improve their teaching. Understanding instructors’ experiences provides invaluable insight into the benefits of m-learning. This article presents findings from interviews with nineteen instructors (at four University of California [UC] campuses) who were using m-learning strategies in their teaching before the pandemic.

We examined the instructors’ perceptions of how m-learning supported or helped them to achieve their teaching goals. During the interviews, instructors told us that integrating m-learning in their courses supported their teaching goals by increasing student engagement, allowing students to learn specific skills, enabling the creation and use of analytics in class, and boosting instructor efficiency.

The Most Prevalent Themes Related to Teaching Goals

  • Student engagement (n=11): Using m-learning helped to increase student participation by stimulating their interest, creating a safe environment, building a class community, and/or providing multiple opportunities for and means of participation.Footnote6
  • Teaching specific skills and concepts (n=14): Using m-learning made it easier to teach complex concepts and skills related to future professional careers.
  • Analytics for and about learning (n=11): Using m-learning helped to inform the teaching that is going on, whether it is students collecting and analyzing data or teachers collecting data as a formative assessment.
  • Efficiency (n=6): Using m-learning helped students to get through content faster and/or allowed students time to think more deeply.

Student Engagement

The instructors noted that the use of m-learning helped to increase student engagement by stimulating their interest, creating a safe environment, building a class community, and providing multiple opportunities for and means of participation.

First, the instructors we interviewed for our study said that they used mobile strategies in ways they felt would stimulate student interest and motivation. For example, Ozcan Gulacar, a member of the chemistry faculty at UC Davis, found that student engagement occurred by heightening students’ ownership of their learning.

Giving students a chance to share their answers via proper technology increases their ownership of the material, and they become more engaged in discussions. They pay more attention to the explanations. Basically, their interest in learning the right answer increases immensely.Footnote7

Similarly, our interviews showed the importance of student ownership when they were collecting and generating data as part of their learning experiences; students’ agency in that process kept them motivated and engaged (see “Analytics for and about Learning” below).

Second, instructors felt that using m-learning increased student engagement by creating a safe environment in the course. Interestingly, this safe environment was created in one of two opposing ways: Some students appreciated that mobile devices lowered communication barriers so they could get to know their peers better, while other students liked that using personal-response systems allowed them to participate anonymously in discussions, thus encouraging their engagement.

As Heather Macias, now an education faculty member at California State University, Long Beach, explained, “The anonymity and low stakes make [students] more willing to [share their ideas] because nobody knows what” any individual student responded.Footnote8

Third, m-learning allowed instructors to create a sense of community because the familiarity bred through the use of m-learning strategies helped to make large classrooms feel smaller. Emma Levine, now a member of the music faculty at California Polytechnic State University, reported that when her class uses Slack for instant messaging, “[students] don’t feel anonymous. They come to [class] because I know who they are, and other people know who they are. Having that sense of belonging, wanting to come, and [having] some type of accountability” encourages them to attend.Footnote9

Finally, students could engage more often during the course, as they had multiple opportunities and means to participate. As Macias said, “[Using mobile technology] gives me more . . . ways to get students hooked into a lesson or participate. I like it because it gives all the students the chance to participate, assuming they all have . . . access to a device, without the pressure of [having] to raise [their] hand.”Footnote10

When their teaching goals centered around increasing student engagement, instructors appeared to feel that mobile technologies helped to stimulate student interest and motivation, create a safe environment and a sense of community, and provide students with multiple opportunities and ways to participate. It is interesting to note that these four benefits of m-learning occurred in overlapping and intersecting ways, not in isolation.

Specific Skills and Concepts

Instructor comments indicated that m-learning facilitated improved student mastery of specific skills and concepts in two important ways. First, instructors felt that m-learning helped them to teach students specific digital skill sets that they needed for their future careers. Nic Barth, a member of the geology faculty at UC Riverside, said that m-learning skills help to provide students with a competitive advantage:

The motivation [for using iPads] was to not use [them] as a replacement for teaching students how to map with pencil and paper but to extend it to the next skill level, where okay now you know how to do that, now we can train you how to do this digitally. And that’s something that is a highly sought-after, marketable skill that they can then take and make themselves more competitive either in grad school or in the job pool.Footnote11

Second, instructors indicated that integrating mobile learning allowed them to more easily create rich learning environments in which to teach complex concepts. For example, Ashish Sood, a business faculty member at UC Riverside, uses a fully online, game-based approach to teach his students about empathy in a business setting. He describes how students learn about risk tolerance by completing a pricing strategy simulation:

In a standard case analysis, you [try to] put yourself in the shoes of a company or a manager and [consider why a manager chose a particular strategy]. But when you are actually playing a simulation game . . . it changes the perspective to, “How should I decide? What is the best way to think about this issue?” and that’s when the learning and the understanding of the concept really sinks in.Footnote12

Whether making use of simulations, visual representations, or demonstrations, instructors who used mobile technologies to illustrate or expand concepts in a more concrete way found that students could more easily understand and apply those concepts, skills, and methods. Often, the application of the technology was taught for future professional careers, and skills or concepts were made relevant by providing opportunities to apply twenty-first-century digital skills to authentic, real-world problems or contexts.

Analytics for and about Learning

Instructors noted that m-learning gave students the opportunity to practice collecting and analyzing data, contribute data to course content, and demonstrate understanding in formative assessments.

Randall Long, who is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio, wanted to provide more robust opportunities for his students to fully develop sampling methods and data-analysis skills. His teaching goal was to have students create a large dataset from their fieldwork to complete their final group paper.

Long asked students to play Pokémon Go and systematically collect Pokémon data in a Google Sheet over a few weeks. After students used Pokémon Go to practice sampling concepts and methods, Long was impressed by the obvious improvement in the substance and overall quality of the group papers compared to those from previous years.Footnote13

Student-generated data can also help to facilitate meaningful class discussions. Bob Blake, a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UC Davis, noted that using mobile technologies in his linguistics class helped to fuel discussions about course content because students themselves were represented in the data. He said that he uses mobile technology to get students to talk and share with each other.

Nobody wants to talk or share very much about their language. It’s a very personal thing. . . . So, we try to use technology to kind of give us a screen to look through. . . . They’ll type in [a word or phrase from their language in response to a scenario], and then suddenly I have all of that data right there. . . . So, we just analyze it, and it provides me the raw data for the types of points I’m trying to make [about language use].Footnote14

These student-generated examples became the data that was used to teach course content. Drawing from real-life examples prompted meaningful discussions.

Finally, data collected from students in formative assessments provided an invaluable opportunity for some instructors to gauge student understanding. Shane Jimerson, a professor in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara, described how he uses data collection to gauge student comprehension in real time:

During the class, I tend to use [Kahoot] as a way of seeing what folks are knowledgeable of, and then that informs me in the moment that “we already know about this,” based on the readings and discussions and other resources. But then there seems to be a few [questions] where there is more variation in the responses. So then I can provide further discussion and exploration to try to make that clear.Footnote15

In Jimerson’s case, using Kahoot to formatively assess students’ learning provided an opportunity in which he could immediately address any confusion students were having or move on to more difficult concepts.

These examples highlight how instructors leveraged m-learning strategies—in which students collected or generated data—for teaching and learning. These techniques invited students to be active participants and make important contributions to the exchange of ideas. Additionally, real-time learning analytics for formative assessment immediately informed instructors about students’ knowledge gaps.

Efficiency

Instructors also noted that m-learning allowed them to get through content more quickly or deeply and improve the speed of the feedback cycle.

Barth distributed “geo pads,” iPads equipped with GIS software, to teach skills and concepts needed for field mapping. He said that this integration of mobile technology resulted in “surprise” time-saving affordances, allowing students time to dig into the more meaningful aspects of the content.

[The use of iPads] simplifies and makes a lot of things more efficient, such [as] the more mundane task [of] locating yourself on a map, for example. It could take a minute, but if you have a tablet that has built-in GPS, it’s a second. Or, if you’re taking a measurement with the tablet, that’s like two or three seconds versus like a minute of playing around with the compass to take that same measurement. And so it’s making things a lot more efficient. [Students] can then focus more of that time on actually understanding what’s going on around them using more critical-thinking skills.Footnote16

Jim Burnette, an academic coordinator at UC Riverside, noted that using e-notebooks made the feedback cycle more efficient:

The paper notebooks took a little while to grade, and so the feedback cycle was a little too slow. So [students] didn’t improve very much in their notebook skills. I think having gone to the e-notebook made the feedback cycle much faster; [students] are actually keeping better notebooks.Footnote17

In these cases, mobile technologies made teaching more efficient and provided students the opportunity to spend more time digging into the more meaningful aspects of the course content. In addition, mobile technologies also provided the instructor the opportunity to give students feedback more quickly, resulting in improvements in students’ work.

Takeaways

While the use cases in this study are all unique, span disciplines, and largely represent m-learning within face-to-face courses, m-learning strategies could also help to guide instructors’ pedagogical balancing act during emergency remote teaching and beyond. This study demonstrates the variety of ways that m-learning technologies can help instructors in their ongoing efforts to become better teachers:

  • Build and maintain classroom community by creating safe spaces that allow for peer interaction as well as anonymity.
  • Increase student interest and motivation by providing multiple means and opportunities for participation.
  • Illustrate concepts or topics more clearly.
  • Develop students’ emotional, cognitive, and technology-based skills for their future careers.
  • Increase engagement by having students use their mobile devices to generate, collect, and analyze data.
  • Identify and adapt to gaps in student learning.
  • Facilitate a more efficient feedback cycle for student learning.
  • Get through basic concepts more quickly, allowing students more time to engage deeply with complex concepts.

Although our study focused on faculty members’ experiences, research on student perspectives demonstrates that m-learning benefits students in similar ways (by creating safe spaces for peer interaction, increasing student interest by offering multiple opportunities to participate, and supporting students who increasingly rely on mobile technology).Footnote18

As instructors and instructional designers, it is essential that we understand the innovative ways in which using m-learning helps us to achieve our teaching goals during this time of instructional upheaval. As a majority of students use mobile devices to complete online coursework, and almost all students have more than one mobile device, designing with m-learning in mind is essential to support student learning, provide more equitable access, and improve instructors’ confidence in their ability to grapple with pedagogical issues in new ways.Footnote19

By:

Source: Leveraging Mobile Technology to Achieve Teaching Goals | EDUCAUSE

Notes

  1. “Mobile Learning,” EDUCAUSE (website), n.d., accessed January 19, 2021. Jump back to footnote 1 in the text.
  2. Yu (Aimee) Zhang, “Characteristics of Mobile Teaching and Learning,” in Handbook of Mobile Teaching and Learning, eds. Yu (Aimee) Zhang and Dean Cristol (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, 2019), 1–21. Jump back to footnote 2 in the text.
  3. Michael M. Grant, “Difficulties in Defining Mobile Learning: Analysis, Design Characteristics, and Implications,” Educational Technology Research and Development 67 no. 2 (January 2019): 361–388. Jump back to footnote 3 in the text.
  4. Nate Ralph, “Perspectives: COVID-19, and the Future of Higher Education,” Bay View Analytics (website), 2020. Jump back to footnote 4 in the text.
  5. Alex Rockey, et al., “Spotlighting Innovative Use Cases of Mobile Learning,” The Emerging Learning Design Journal 6 no. 1 (2019); Mindy Colin, et al., “M-Learning at UC: Practices, Affordances, and Teaching Styles,” (poster presented at ELI Annual Meeting, Anaheim, CA, February 19, 2019). Jump back to footnote 5 in the text.
  6. N refers to number of participants. Jump back to footnote 6 in the text.
  7. Ozcan Gulacar, interview by authors, audio recording, Davis, November 20, 2017. Jump back to footnote 7 in the text.
  8. Heather Macias, interview by authors, audio recording, Santa Barbara, February 16, 2018. Jump back to footnote 8 in the text.
  9. Emma Levine, interview by authors, audio recording, Santa Barbara, February 2, 2018. Jump back to footnote 9 in the text.
  10. Macias, interview, February 16, 2018. Jump back to footnote 10 in the text.
  11. Nic Barth, interview by authors, video recording, Riverside, December 14, 2017. Jump back to footnote 11 in the text.
  12. Ashish Sood, interview by authors, video recording, Riverside, March 16, 2018. Jump back to footnote 12 in the text.
  13. Randall Long, interviews by authors, Santa Barbara, February 16, 2018; October 26, 2018. Jump back to footnote 13 in the text.
  14. Bob Blake, interview by authors, audio recording, Davis, November 30, 2017. Jump back to footnote 14 in the text.
  15. Shane Jimerson, interview by authors, audio recording, December 1, 2017. Jump back to footnote 15 in the text.
  16. Nic Barth, interview by authors, video recording, Riverside, December 14, 2017. Jump back to footnote 16 in the text.
  17. Jim Burnette, interview by authors, video recording, Riverside, February 13, 2018. Jump back to footnote 17 in the text.
  18. See, for example: Enrique Alvarez Vazquez, Manoel Cortes-Mendez, Ryan Striker, Lauren Singelmann, et al., “Lessons Learned Using Slack in Engineering Education: An Innovation-Based Learning Approach,” (presentation, 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, Virtual Online, June 22, 2020); Jorge Fonseca Cacho, “Using Discord to Improve Student Communication, Engagement, and Performance,” (poster presentation, UNLV Best Teaching Practices Expo, University of Nevada Las Vegas, January 23, 2020). Jump back to footnote 18 in the text.
  19. David L. Clinefelter, Carol B. Aslanian, Andrew J. Magda, Online College Students 2019: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences, research report, (Louisville, KY: Wiley edu, LLC, June 2019); “Mobile Fact Sheet,” PEW Research Center, Internet & Technology, June 12, 2019. Jump back to footnote 19 in the text.

Mindy Colin is an Instructional Consultant at UC Santa Barbara.

Samantha Eastman is an Instructional Design Consultant at UC Riverside.

Margaret Merrill is a Senior Instructional Design Consultant at UC Davis.

Alex Rockey is an Instructional Technologist Instructor at Bakersfield College.

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Huawei Sells Honor Unit ‘To Ensure Its Own Survival,’ But Loses Smartphone Synergy

Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant once ranked as the world’s largest smartphone maker and increasingly squeezed by Washington, announced Tuesday that it would sell its budget handset brand Honor to a government-backed consortium in a bid for the unit’s survival.

Huawei has been struggling to overcome restrictions on crucial chip technologies by the U.S., which calls the company a national security threat. By breaking off, Honor can get smartphone supplies without Washington’s blockade, but will lose access to Huawei’s resources and may even face new U.S. restrictions in the longer term, analysts warn.

“This move has been made by Honor’s industry chain to ensure its own survival,” Huawei said in a statement. “Huawei’s consumer business has been under tremendous pressure as of late. This has been due to a persistent unavailability of technical elements needed for our mobile phone business.”

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Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology is set to buy all Honor assets to “help Honor’s channel sellers and suppliers make it through this difficult time,” according to the statement. The buyer comprises more than 30 “agents and dealers” of the Honor brand.

Government-run Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development Group founded the consortium. It counts local government-linked energy, healthcare and investment firms as members. Chinese sports, retail and entertainment conglomerate Suning.com Group, one of China’s largest private companies, is also on the list. MORE FOR YOUVietnamese Mega-Conglomerate Vingroup Launches South China Sea Tourism With New SubmarineTop iPhone Assembler Foxconn Expects To Move Further Away From ChinaVietnam’s Richest Man Sees Interim Earnings Drop 60% As His Conglomerate Retreats From Retail

Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development said in its own statement the investment is “market-driven” one aimed at saving Honor’s “industry chain,” including suppliers, sellers and consumers.

The sale will let Honor “get the ball rolling” on getting supplies, says Kiranjeet Kaur, a Singapore-based senior research manager at IDC’s Asia Pacific client devices group. But it will miss the “synergy” it had established behind the scenes with Huawei, she notes. The two had shared R&D and original design manufacturing. “I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be for Honor to detach from that,” Kaur says. “I’m not sure how Honor is going to differentiate in the market from Huawei.”

The consortium’s state influence could land Honor in trouble if it wants approval from the U.S., Kaur adds.

“The fact that there is no strategic investor behind the deal, but rather a consortium of players, many of which are related to the government, sheds light on some of the deal rationale,” says Alexander Sirakov, an independent Chinese financial technology analyst.

Huawei has hoped that a sale will give it an infusion of cash while protecting Honor itself from more U.S. sanctions, experts said last week when news first broke about a possible sale. Huawei’s billionaire founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, had said last year that U.S. sanctions would cause company revenue to drop by billions of dollars.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei to an entity list of companies that are barred from doing business with organization in the U.S. An order that took effect two months ago placed 38 Huawei affiliates to the list and restricts transactions where U.S. software or technology would help develop the Chinese company’s hardware.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is not expected to cancel action against Huawei at the start of his term next year as he focuses on domestic issues, analysts said last week, but he might not add sanctions.

Huawei’s statement does not disclose a selling price or mention the U.S. sanctions.

Honor was launched in 2013 as a budget brand to compete with Chinese rivals and sold throughout developing markets in Asia at an average price of $156. Honor has kept costs low and saved money by selling most of its phones online. Huawei would ship more than 70 million Honor phones annually. “We hope this new Honor company will embark on a new road of honor with its shareholders, partners, and employees,” the Huawei statement says.

Huawei was ranked No. 2 in the world and No. 1 in China in the third quarter by IDC. It had reached the top spot in the previous quarter for its first time.Follow me on Twitter

Ralph Jennings

Ralph Jennings

As a news reporter I have covered some of everything since 1988, from my alma mater U.C. Berkeley to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where I followed Communist officials for the Japanese news agency Kyodo. Stationed in Taipei since 2006, I track Taiwanese companies and local economic trends that resonate offshore. At Reuters through 2010, I looked intensely at the island’s awkward relations with China. More recently, I’ve studied high-tech trends in greater China and expanded my overall news coverage to surrounding Asia.

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Chinese tech giant #Huawei has announced it’s selling its budget, youth-oriented smartphone brand Honor to another Chinese company. The move is seen as helping it ride out challenges posed by U.S. sanctions. #5G#China Subscribe to us on YouTube: https://goo.gl/lP12gA Download our APP on Apple Store (iOS): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cctvn… Download our APP on Google Play (Android): https://play.google.com/store/apps/de…

Verizon Launches Yahoo-Branded Smartphone For $50

Verizon is launching a purple Yahoo smartphone for $50, the first device from the once-ascendant tech company, which comes at a time when Verizon seems to be figuring  out what to do with the former search giant.

With its budget-friendly price point, the Yahoo Mobile ZTE Blade A3Y doesn’t have the latest and greatest specs: The phone will ship with a 5.4-inch 720p display, an Android 10 operating system, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a fingerprint scanner and face unlock.

Yahoo’s apps will come pre-installed, including Yahoo Mail, News, Sports and Weather.

The phone won’t be able to access Verizon’s newly launched 5G network, which isn’t a surprise considering its low price.

Verizon has already pushed Yahoo into a smartphone industry with Yahoo Mobile, a phone plan launched in March that charges customers $40 for unlimited talk, text and data on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. 

Key Background

Yahoo was a major player in the 90s and early aughts, but it never figured out how to compete with Google, and even turned down an opportunity to buy Google for $1 billion in 2002. Yahoo then acquired Flickr and Tumblr in an attempt to grow past its email and search engine, but even those services were eventually eclipsed by other social media companies. Verizon bought Yahoo in 2017 for 4.83 billion, then a shell of its former self, and put it under its media arm. In its heyday, Yahoo’s market cap reached a whopping $125 billion in January 2000.

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Tangent

Verizon also bought HuffPost and TechCrunch through its acquisition of AOL in 2015. Now, Verizon is trying to sell off HuffPost, but is reportedly struggling to find a buyer. Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Rachel Sandler

 Rachel Sandler

I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. I’ve previously reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

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Boyd Digital: Global Tech News 1.91K subscribers Reported today on The Verge For the full article visit: https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/11/21… Reported today in The Verge. Verizon launches Yahoo Mobile phone service Verizon is launching a Yahoo-branded mobile phone service called Yahoo Mobile in an attempt to use consumers’ total apathy toward familiarity with the Yahoo brand to kickstart a new wireless provider.

Yahoo Mobile works off of Verizon’s network and offers only one plan: unlimited LTE data for $40 per month, plus throttled tethering and a subscription to Yahoo Mail Pro. It’s a good price; Verizon charges $65 per month for a prepaid unlimited plan, and AT&T charges $45 per month. If this all just feels like a lazy attempt to recycle the Yahoo brand, well, it gets worse: Yahoo Mobile is basically just a rebranded version of Visible, which is another spinoff phone service operated by Yahoo.

The singular plan is the same, their websites match up beat for beat, and Yahoo Mobile even offers Visible’s phone insurance plan under Visible’s name. Verizon closed its purchase of Yahoo close to three years ago. The deal included the Yahoo brand and major web services like Flickr and Tumblr. But Verizon was mainly interested in Yahoo’s ad technology, and it’s done little with Yahoo.

Both Flickr and Tumblr have since been sold off, and Yahoo’s biggest announcements have been payouts for data breaches. Spinoff carriers like Yahoo Mobile and Visible let Verizon diversify its business and test out new ways of selling wireless service. Verizon isn’t exactly a beloved brand, but Visible has hip branding and a simple pricing structure – something that might appeal to younger customers. Yahoo Mobile offers another take on that, just with the extremely appealing added perk of… subscription Yahoo Mail.

Exclusive: Warning Over Chinese Mobile Giant Xiaomi Recording Millions Of People’s ‘Private’ Web And Phone Use

“It’s a backdoor with phone functionality,” quips Gabi Cirlig about his new Xiaomi phone. He’s only half-joking.

Cirlig is speaking with Forbes after discovering that his Redmi Note 8 smartphone was watching much of what he was doing on the phone. That data was then being sent to remote servers hosted by another Chinese tech giant, Alibaba, which were ostensibly rented by Xiaomi.

The seasoned cybersecurity researcher found a worrying amount of his behavior was being tracked, whilst various kinds of device data were also being harvested, leaving Cirlig spooked that his identity and his private life was being exposed to the Chinese company.

When he looked around the Web on the device’s default Xiaomi browser, it recorded all the websites he visited, including search engine queries whether with Google or the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo, and every item viewed on a news feed feature of the Xiaomi software. That tracking appeared to be happening even if he used the supposedly private “incognito” mode.

The device was also recording what folders he opened and to which screens he swiped, including the status bar and the settings page. All of the data was being packaged up and sent to remote servers in Singapore and Russia, though the Web domains they hosted were registered in Beijing.

Meanwhile, at Forbes’ request, cybersecurity researcher Andrew Tierney investigated further. He also found browsers shipped by Xiaomi on Google Play—Mi Browser Pro and the Mint Browser—were collecting the same data. Together, they have more than 15 million downloads, according to Google Play statistics.

Many more millions are likely to be affected by what Cirlig described as a serious privacy issue, though Xiaomi denied there was a problem. Valued at $50 billion, Xiaomi is one of the top four smartphone makers in the world by market share, behind Apple, Samsung and Huawei. Xiaomi’s big sell is cheap devices that have many of the same qualities as higher-end smartphones. But for customers, that low cost could come with a hefty price: their privacy.

Cirlig thinks that the problems affect many more models than the one he tested. He downloaded firmware for other Xiaomi phones—including the Xiaomi MI 10, Xiaomi Redmi K20 and Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 devices. He then confirmed they had the same browser code, leading him to suspect they had the same privacy issues.

And there appear to be issues with how Xiaomi is transferring the data to its servers. Though the Chinese company claimed the data was being encrypted when transferred in an attempt to protect user privacy, Cirlig found he was able to quickly see just what was being taken from his device by decoding a chunk of information that was hidden with a form of easily crackable encoding, known as base64. It took Cirlig just a few seconds to change the garbled data into readable chunks of information.

“My main concern for privacy is that the data sent to their servers can be very easily correlated with a specific user,” warned Cirlig.

Xiaomi’s response

In response to the findings, Xiaomi said, “The research claims are untrue,” and “Privacy and security is of top concern,” adding that it “strictly follows and is fully compliant with local laws and regulations on user data privacy matters.” But a spokesperson confirmed it was collecting browsing data, claiming the information was anonymized so wasn’t tied to any identity. They said that users had consented to such tracking.

But, as pointed out by Cirlig and Tierney, it wasn’t just the website or Web search that was sent to the server. Xiaomi was also collecting data about the phone, including unique numbers for identifying the specific device and Android version. Cirlig said such “metadata” could “easily be correlated with an actual human behind the screen.”

Xiaomi’s spokesperson also denied that browsing data was being recorded under incognito mode. Both Cirlig and Tierney, however, found in their independent tests that their web habits were sent off to remote servers regardless of what mode the browser was set to, providing both photos and videos as proof.

When Forbes provided Xiaomi with a video made by Cirlig showing how his Google search for “porn” and a visit to the site PornHub were sent to remote servers, even when in incognito mode, the company spokesperson continued to deny that the information was being recorded. “This video shows the collection of anonymous browsing data, which is one of the most common solutions adopted by internet companies to improve the overall browser product experience through analyzing non-personally identifiable information,” they added.

Both Cirlig and Tierney said Xiaomi’s behavior was more invasive than other browsers like Google Chrome or Apple Safari. “It’s a lot worse than any of the mainstream browsers I have seen,” Tierney said. “Many of them take analytics, but it’s about usage and crashing. Taking browser behavior, including URLs, without explicit consent and in private browsing mode, is about as bad as it gets.”

Cirlig also suspected that his app use was being monitored by Xiaomi, as every time he opened an app, a chunk of information would be sent to a remote server. Another researcher who’d tested Xiaomi devices, though was under an NDA to discuss the matter openly, said he’d seen the manufacturer’s phone collect such data. Xiaomi didn’t respond to questions on that issue.

‘Behavioral Analytics’

Xiaomi appears to have another reason for collecting the data: to better understand its users’ behavior. It’s using the services of a behavioral analytics company called Sensors Analytics. The Chinese startup, also known as Sensors Data, has raised $60 million since its founding in 2015, most recently taking $44 million in a round led by New York private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which also featured funding from Sequoia Capital China. As described in Pitchbook, a tracker of company funding, Sensors Analytics is a “provider of an in-depth user behavior analysis platform and professional consulting services.” Its tools help its clients in “exploring the hidden stories behind the indicators in exploring the key behaviors of different businesses.”

Both Cirlig and Tierney found their Xiaomi apps were sending data to domains that appeared to reference Sensors Analytics, including the repeated use of SA. When clicking on one of the domains, the page contained one sentence: “Sensors Analytics is ready to receive your data!”  There was an API called SensorDataAPI—an API (application programming interface) being the software that allows third parties access to app data. Xiaomi is also listed as a customer on Sensors Data’s website.

The founder and CEO of Sensors Data, Sang Wenfeng, has a long history in tracking users. At Chinese internet giant Baidu he built a big data platform for Baidu user logs, according to his company bio.

Xiaomi’s spokesperson confirmed the relationship with the startup: “While Sensors Analytics provides a data analysis solution for Xiaomi, the collected anonymous data are stored on Xiaomi’s own servers and will not be shared with Sensors Analytics, or any other third-party companies.”

It’s the second time in two months that a huge Chinese tech company has been seen watching over users’ phone habits. A security app with a “private” browser made by Cheetah Mobile, a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was seen collecting information on Web use, Wi-Fi access point names and more granular data like how a user scrolled on visited Web pages. Cheetah argued it needed to collect the information to protect users and improve their experience.

Late in his research, Cirlig also discovered that Xiaomi’s music player app on his phone was collecting information on his listening habits: what songs were played and when.

One message was clear to the researcher: when you’re listening, Xiaomi is listening, too.

UPDATE: Xiaomi posted a blog in which it delineated how and when it collects visited URLs visited by its users. Read it in full here.

The company reiterated that the data transferred from Xiaomi devices and browsers was anonymized and not attached to any identity.

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I’m associate editor for Forbes, covering security, surveillance and privacy. I’ve been breaking news and writing features on these topics for major publications since 2010. As a freelancer, I worked for The Guardian, Vice Motherboard, Wired and BBC.com, amongst many others. I was named BT Security Journalist of the year in 2012 and 2013 for a range of exclusive articles, and in 2014 was handed Best News Story for a feature on US government harassment of security professionals. I like to hear from hackers who are breaking things for either fun or profit and researchers who’ve uncovered nasty things on the web. Tip me on Signal at 447837496820. I use WhatsApp and Treema too. Or you can email me at TBrewster@forbes.com, or tbthomasbrewster@gmail.com.

Source: Exclusive: Warning Over Chinese Mobile Giant Xiaomi Recording Millions Of People’s ‘Private’ Web And Phone Use

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China’s tech giant Xiaomi, the world’s fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer, launched a new 5G-capable smartphone at the ongoing 2019 World Mobile Congress in the Spanish city of Barcelona on Tuesday. The new product will be able to take advantage of new and faster 5G mobile networks. Subscribe to us on YouTube: https://goo.gl/lP12gA Download our APP on Apple Store (iOS): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cctvn… Download our APP on Google Play (Android): https://play.google.com/store/apps/de… Follow us on: Website: https://www.cgtn.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChinaGlobalT… Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cgtn/?hl=zh-cn Twitter: https://twitter.com/CGTNOfficial Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/CGTNOfficial/ Tumblr: http://cctvnews.tumblr.com/ Weibo: http://weibo.com/cctvnewsbeijing Tiktok: https://m.tiktok.com/h5/share/usr/659… Douyin: https://www.youtube.com/redirect?q=ht…

Swypio Special – Addictive Mobile Sales Getting System

Swypio is the 1st Of It’s Kind — Brand New Mobile Lead Generation & Engagement Monster With Highly Addictive Swipe Cards. People are bombarded with ads 24X7. According to a recent study, people’s attention span is now lower than a goldfish. Plus landing pages, forms are slowly getting obsolete. Not just, people are now using their mobiles more than ever, for every single thing. They swipe left, they swipe right, they just swipe swipe swipe.

People Are Now Addicted To Swiping! So, they developed the easiest, the most addictive, the most engaging proven by Psychology to generate leads and sales on demand. No more boring landing pages or never-ending Quiz funnels crippling your conversions. “Swipe Left. Swipe Right. Swipe, Swipe, Swipe. And BOOM OPTIN FORM!”. You can use these swipe cards to generate leads for your online or local business, to promote CPA offers, affiliate marketing campaigns, ecom campaigns… only your imagination is the limit.

Key Features

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Here are some immediate benefits to your marketing performance:

  • Instant Benefit #1: Higher Conversions On EVERYTHING

Their tests show significant improvements in conversion. It is also a fact that swiping is simply proven to keep people going on and on with whatever they join.

Requesting an action taken by your visitor or order will be a lot easier when your content is appropriate.

  • Instant benefits # 2: Add more leads

Same as above but since they have LEAD GENERATION specific features built into the software, and even the ability to collect and store them in the platform, you can expect a huge increase in leads if that’s what jiggles your wiggle.

  • Benefit #3: More Time Spent On-Site & Ad Revenue

When your content is suitable and especially when NO ONE ELSE’S content is swipable, people tend to spend more time on your site, just like tinder and TikTok where people spend significant amounts of “straight” time

(meaning they stay and don’t move on to other activities, and remain focused on the platforms until they are done, this is a killer of distractions)

When people spend more time on your site, your ad revenue will increase, your retention will increase, people will then remember your brand name or your name better and faster.

  • Benefit #4: Faster & Higher Rankings

As people spend more time on-site, this signals Google that your site is of high quality, has good content, is interesting, engaging and a good experience.

Hence they instantly reward you with higher rankings as google likes quality over quantity.

  • Benefit #5: Grab Attention & Keep It

Swipe Cards aren’t just engaging, they’re also attention grabbers. Did you hear the goldfish story with the 8 seconds goldfish attention span and humans with less? That’s B.S.

Humans have selective attention, they have no problem to really quickly look at things that spark their interest, like beautiful faces, attractive people, shiny things, new products from favorite brands and more.

Their attention span has been declining due to the number of distractions and the disinterest in our products and services. Swipe Cards eliminate that, instantly grab attention, and keep it.

  • Benefit #6: Relevancy & Appealing To The Youth

The big shakers and movers these days are the youth, they want what brands make and brands sell what they want.

Swiping is not an accident, swiping is a consistent factor in their lives, the minute you try to sell them something without swiping, you lost their interest. Not completely, but more than enough to hurt your business.

  • Benefit #7: The Invisible Foundation — Engagement!

When I say engagement, what thought comes to mind? Is it sales, traffic, leads?

No, it’s NOTHING.

That’s because to most people engagement means nothing, and your job as the marketer is to use specific terms like sales, traffic, leads.

WELL, the truth is, engagement is something, and that is the fact that users devote their time, attention and trust with you, and when they do, something amazing happens, they remember you.

The look you up, they continue with you, they may sign up, they may buy, they may visit other pages, but the truth is, engagement is the invisible foundation to your business success and Swypio instantly provides you with MORE.

Source: Swypio Special LIVE

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