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Handsprings to Learning

Fri May 4, 2001 - 11:12 PM EDT - By James Hromadka

Students & Faculty

Hromadka: I myself am pursuing my MBA right now, and several people in my class have handhelds. I wish we had courses designed for handhelds like ECU does! How have students responded to the program? Are you seeing an increase in non-HtL students purchasing Visors?

Watkins: Students in the program have responded favorably. Here are a few of their comments on the program:

ECU Student with a Visor"I have found the Visor to be quite useful in my studies for DTEC6810. Once I got the hang of configuring and operating my Visor, I found that Hotsyncing to get assignments and grades was quite easy. ... Overall, I have enjoyed [the course], learning about the Visor, and expanding my thinking in terms of digital communications."

"The use of the Handspring Visor has been a very exciting learning experience. My job requires me to travel several times a month. I have used to Visor to check the weekly assignments, the grade board, and my e-mail while traveling without having to carry a laptop around. I learn how to save in telephone charges by quickly downloading e-mail and e-magazines. Then I can read the magazines and respond to e-mail while flying and setting in the airport. You can send your responses by quickly connecting and sending the e-mail. ... I have truly enjoyed this learning experience."

There has been a significant surge in the purchase of the Handspring handheld and its Springboard modules by students and faculty alike in our College Store. All Handspring handhelds except the Edge - Solo, Visor Deluxe, Prism - are available. Many Springboard modules are available too. As soon as the Xircom SpringPort Wireless Ethernet module comes on the retail market, its expected that sales will become even better. With ECUs extensive wireless Ethernet network in place that includes many academic buildings, residence halls, dining areas and external corridors, its anticipated that students will move to the handheld computer rather than a notebook system for accessing e-mail, the web, chatting (AIM), course content, etc.

Hromadka: Excellent! Now that the program has been running for several semesters, what are some of the challenges you have faced in the program? Has there been any resistance from any faculty members in using the Visors?

Watkins: There have been many challenges to face, none of which has been insurmountable. The biggest decision was in deciding whether to use the Visor or the Pocket PC. We chose the Visor because of its stable operating system, the track record of Jeff Hawkins and his team with US Robotics/3 Com, its cost vis--vis the Pocket PC and its expandability with the Springboard module.

Dr. Tucker with several studentsFaculty members across the campus have been very receptive to the using the handheld computer once the word got out about its potential. In fact we have faced little or no resistance to the initiative once the project was funded. We are now finding more faculty wanting to use handheld computers with their classes than we can support. Its likely that we will move to a handheld computer requirement of some sort for our students in the near future.

The Future >>


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