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Using Handheld Computers (Pdas) To Teach Information Technology And Problem Solving

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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

Computers in Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1256.1 - 7.1256.6



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Morel

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Jerry Schumacher

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Ed Mattison

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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 ____

Using Handheld Computers to Teach Information Technology and Problem Solving

Rusl Flowers, Ed Mattison, Tom Morel, Jerry Schumacher United States Military Academy at West Point

1. Introduction

Handheld computing has reached a point in its evolution where we believe that it is necessary to incorporate mobile information devices, such as, PDAs, mobile phones, and text messengers, in computer science and information technology courses. Furthermore, we believe that handheld computing should be considered also for use in non-computer related courses in the same way that personal computers, laptops, multimedia, and other information technologies have been considered in non-technical courses. Handheld computers represent the latest evolution of personal computing. Their low price and portability offer opportunities for learning activities both in the class and outside of the class. We are actively exploring these opportunities. We believe that handheld computing has a place in computer science and information technology education, and we are attempting to determine to what extent they should be used and how they should be used. This paper discusses our ideas for using handheld computers in college education, our experiences in introducing handheld computing in computer- related courses, and the results of our efforts.

2. Background

Handheld devices vary in their capabilities but many share some of the same functions. Handhelds typically offer some kind of personal information software that allows the user to manage appointments, tasks, and contact information. Some devices are designed to be always connected to a network, such as text messengers. Text messengers allow users to send and receive small text messages over a wireless network. Others, like PDAs, can connect to a network with additional hardware and software. Palm PDAs and PocketPC PDAs can be connected to a PC via a cradle and a USB port to synchronize data with Lotus Notes or Microsoft Outlook. Some mobile phones can access web services via a radio packet switch network. Although mobile phones are designed specifically to make wireless telephone calls, most phones are equipped with personal information management software. Some PDAs can act as a mobile phone with additional hardware and software, whereas some PDAs are designed as a combination mobile phone/PDA. Many PDAs have expansion slots that allow the user to insert modules that add more functionality or memory. By inserting modules, a user can use the PDA as a GPS, a digital camera, or an MP3 player. Prices for these devices range from $50 - $700. The following table summarizes and illustrates the different devices and their functions:

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

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Morel, T., & Schumacher, J., & Mattison, E. (2002, June), Using Handheld Computers (Pdas) To Teach Information Technology And Problem Solving Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10149

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