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Handheld Computers As Tools In Freshman Courses

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.600.1 - 7.600.6



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Paper Authors

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Christopher Carroll

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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Session 2793

Handheld Computers as Tools in Freshman Courses

Christopher R. Carroll Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Minnesota Duluth


The latest advance in miniaturizing personal computers is the handheld “pocket PC.” Since Fall semester, 2001, the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) has required incoming freshmen majoring in Engineering and Computer Science to purchase and use these devices in entry-level courses. This year- long experiment will determine whether or not handheld computers should be required of all majors in the College, and, if successful, will establish a new avenue of instruction for students in science and engineering programs at UMD.

In this experimental program, incoming students are required to buy the iPAQ handheld personal computer, manufactured by Compaq. The iPAQs are equipped with wireless communication capability to connect with wireless hubs distributed across campus, giving students access to the Internet and to email services through the handheld devices. The iPAQs are very capable devices, with 32 Megabytes of memory and a 6 x 8 cm touch-sensitive color graphics screen on which users can enter information using a stylus either through soft buttons, menus, or handwriting recognition. The computer operating system is a variant of the Microsoft Windows platform.

The iPAQ computers are being used in freshman courses in Engineering and Computer Science this year. Course instructors have developed various approaches to incorporating the devices into their curricula. Since the pocket PC is a computing platform that is new to academia, many different applications are being tested. The iPAQs can give students access to web pages on the Internet, and some instructors are using that capability in their courses. The iPAQs also can store libraries of information locally, giving students access to component data sheets, chemical properties, or other data deemed useful by the instructor of a particular course. Some instructors have developed custom software that runs directly on the iPAQ computers without requiring interaction through the wireless connection to the Internet.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ã2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Carroll, C. (2002, June), Handheld Computers As Tools In Freshman Courses Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10557

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