Anywhere, Anytime Learning Using Highly Mobile Devices

Anywhere, Anytime Learning Using Highly Mobile Devices

Mark van ‘t Hooft (Kent State University, USA), Graham Brown-Martin (Handheld Learning, UK) and Karen Swan (Kent State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-054-7.ch013
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Abstract

In a world that is increasingly mobile and connected, the nature of information resources is changing. The new information is networked, unlimited, fluid, multimodal, and overwhelming in quantity. Digital technologies, such as mobile phones, wireless handheld devices, and the Internet, provide access to a wide range of resources and tools, anywhere and anytime. This type of access and connectivity has also had an impact on how we collaborate on projects and share media and therefore, greatly increases opportunities to learn inside and outside institutionalized school systems. Learners now have the tools to take learning beyond classrooms and the school day. The development of handheld devices can be traced back to Alan Kay’s vision of the Dynabook. As early as the 1970s, Kay envisioned a mobile, kid-friendly, notebook-sized computer with arti- ficial-intelligence capabilities that would support children’s learning inside and outside of school. Similar ideas soon followed in the form of devices such as the Psion I (1984), the GRiDPaD (1988), Amstrad’s PenPad, and Tandy’s Zoomer (1993), the Apple Newton (1993-1995), and the eMate (1997-1998). During the 1990s and early 2000s, Palm developed a series of handheld devices that defined the handheld market in North America, while Microsoft developed several versions of its Windows Mobile software that could be found on mobile devices made by such companies as HP, Dell, and more recently, Fujitsu Siemens (Bayus, Jain, & Rao, 1997; HPC Factor, 2004; Williams, 2004). There are also many devices whose primary function is entertainment or communication, including media players such as Apple iPods, portable gaming devices like the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS, and, of course, mobile phones. These types of devices are becoming increasingly popular and multifunctional, with iPods being able to store and play music, pictures, and video; portable gaming devices sporting wireless capabilities for interaction between devices (and in the case of the PSP, Internet access); and mobile phones being used to shoot pictures and video, upload content to the Web or e-mail it elsewhere, do text messaging, and make phone calls. Whatever the device, convergence seems to be increasingly important, and growing numbers of young people are using these mobile, digital, and connected tools daily, whenever and wherever they need them, and this includes schools.

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