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By Lauren Strapagiel

Ryerson techies who are waiting for the chance to create the next great cellphone technology might be able to develop them for class assignments in the near future.

With Apple dropping its restrictive non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which prevented people from talking about what they were developing for the iPhone, Rye profs want to allow students to create cellphone applications in the classroom.

New media professor Mark Argo is excited for what’s to come.

“That’s what was holding back development for so long,” says Argo.

Application developers are now free to share ideas and code with others, broadening the possibilities for interested Ryerson students.

“At least, informally, people can start developing applications on their own,” says Argo, noting that fourth year new media students will now be able to use iPhone applications in their thesis projects with greater freedom and more resources.

As for structuring classes around things like iPhone development, Argo says the next step is “to figure out what cool projects can be done.”

Argo points out it’s important to see how the technology fits into new media rather than making iPhone applications for the sake of making iPhone applications.

Alexandra Bal, another new media professor, says that an important move is for the faculty to have full-time staff dedicated to mobile technology endeavors.

She says that many of the staff interested in pursuing this are only part-time professors.

Like Argo, Bal feels that these developments are crucial for programs like new media.

“It’s not that we want to, it’s that we have to. It’s key to our growth.”

New media program director Steve Daniels relies on the innovation and enthusiasm for new technology from people like Argo and Bal.

“I’m not among the cool kids who have entered the touch generation,” says Daniels, who admits he doesn’t stay on top of new gadgets the way many students do.

But he is eager to include things like iPhone application development in the new media curriculum.

Daniels’ vision goes even further than that. For the last year and a half, he has been formulating full classes dedicated to mobile technology that could use Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Andriod, as well as having students dream up their own mobile devices.

This is part of new media’s commitment to “ubiquitous computing”— how technology is embedded in the daily lives of everyone.

In keeping with this idea, Daniels sees new media’s mobile technology developments extending to the rest of the Ryerson community.

Daniels envisions fashion students creating wearable mobile technology and radio and television arts students using mobile technology as part of their projects.

But don’t get too excited yet. Daniels says anything of this calibre is still at least two to three years away.

Even for new media students, proposals for new classes can take a year or more to be approved.

Argo says that new media tends to have a “little sibling syndrome” within image arts, overshadowed by photography and film. But with these new mobile technology classes, new media just may shake off its underdog status.

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