About | Members of the Project Team | Publications | PDAs in education links

About the Project

These pages relate to a PhD project which started by exploring the use of PDAs in Higher Education. Like many PhD projects its direction has changed throughout it. Publications resulting from this research are on the publications page.

Current work is investigating building links between mobile devices and virtual worlds such as second life. The project original direction is explained below.

This project explored the use of portable computing to increase the flexibility of access and delivery of course material in higher education. It develop a system forlearning and assessment delivery via Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and evaluates the benefits of such delivery for engineering and technology undergraduate students. The project targets an engineering environment, but has potential for expanded scope across the University.

To provide a practical CAA application does not always need the power of a desktop system and useful CAA systems can be facilitated using technology that :

· Makes the best use of limited financial resources
· Has minimal size and maximal portability
· Is designed to be "Ready-At-Hand"

The alternative proposed in this project is the use of a Portable Digital Assistant(PDA).
The PDA is an ideal platform to facilitate such a task. Using a PDA may bring additional benefits as the organisational, diary and note taking tools supplied with the PDA may help the student to develop better organisational skills.

The immediate availability of a PDA (switch on and use -no boot up time) makes them ideal to grab a few moments useful working time at times and in locations where even a laptop would not be useful. A PDA equipped student can carry question sets at all times. Their response to assessment questions can direct them to further stored learning materials. In addition, when new question sets are regularly loaded into the PDA, their journalled route through previous material may be archived for later analysis.

The initial phase of the project used 25 Clie SL10's. to deliver multichoice revision tests for engineering students. Some course texts were also been converted to Palm format. The Clie's were supplied with the standard built in applications along with two custom applications that were written for the project. One application is a simple quiz application that presents multichoice questions, the other is a logging application that records what applications are being used.

We received additional funding of £10500 by our institution to expand the project. In November 2004 Palm Zire 72 PDAs were given to all first year technology students at the Robert Clark Centre for Technological education. The results of this are on the publications page.

In 2007-2008 new visualisation and analysis software was written to assist in the examination of data collected during the project and the data is currently being re-evaluated.