Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Integrated cell phones to dominate the handheld future?

Yesterday I attended the preconference seminar "Catch the Handheld Wave". The presenter focussed on introducing a typical handheld (Palm in her case) to education faculty as a first step in promoting the use of handhelds into the classroom. The College of Education at the University of Central Oklahoma obtained a grant from Palm and have developed a well accepted and well supported program for faculty using handheld devices. The integration program included formal training for both users and support personnel, an equipment loan program with accessories including camera, GPS, and scientific probes, and a stipend program to compensate faculty for producing learning modules for the devices. U of Central OK also requires teacher candidates to become proficient in the use of handheld devices and requires a handheld component in their graduation portfolio.

Classroom projects that have been the most successful included using handhelds for graphic calculators in science and math curriculums, using handhelds as portable databases to aid school administrators in monitoring student behavior, and collecting information from student users to facilitate classroom management. The presenter's environment is limited since it is not yet wireless so infrared is used for data transfer between devices. However, the uses her faculty and students make of handhelds would be even more viable in a wireless environment.

The presenter provided us with a wealth of resources for obtaining software and developed learning modules for handheld devices that I plan to explore more fully when I return.

Several international attendees pointed out that the really ubiquitous handheld technology out there are cell phones. They wished to explore information delivery to internet-integrated cell phones. I pointed out that format independent delivery mediums like RSS could be used with the smaller cell displays but I don't have a device to test my suggestion.
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