You know how most mobile web browsers will take you to the mobile version of a website if it exists and just make a mockery of a website if it lacks a mobile equivalent? And no, I'm not talking about the iPhone. I know its browser is uber-cool.
Opera Mini, however, is a Java-based mobile browser that seems to do a darned-fine job of rendering entire sites on my BlackBerry. Downloads and rendering are fairly quick; once downloaded, the trackball moves around a zoom window on the screen so that you can look at and interact with a more readable section of the web page. No mobile site required.
So why do I bring this up here? Because we tend, here in Ed Tech, to access a lot of websites that don't cater to road warriors with BlackBerries. How many of your state departments of education have mobile versions of their websites? How about your SIS? Quite a few have syncing capacity with a PDA, but most don't allow you to interact with the full version of the SIS if they are web-based.
It was a bit painful (it required some zooming, panning, etc.), but I was able to solve a user's problem on our SIS today remotely, without computer access, by logging into X2 (our web-based student information system) using Opera Mini. The full site was available, and, although I'm sure I would have eventually hit a wall if I wanted to start editing templates and forms, I had no problem with most of the navigation.
Of course, it also means that any of our students with basic smartphones can jump past our content filters and get to full versions of their favorite social networking sites.
Then again, as we reexamine the restrictions we place on students using new technology to collaborate and learn, it means that it takes a very simple device to deliver a relatively rich experience to a student.
Talk back below if you've had luck with Opera Mini on other devices besides a BlackBerry.