PDAs and Handhelds: ICT at your side and not in your face

Abstract : This paper stems from a trial at the Graduate School of Education in the University of Bristol supported by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) and set up to evaluate the potential of personal digital assistants with internet access to support initial teacher training (ITT) students in science. Fourteen students were given PDAs selected to represent the range of then currently available PDAs with mobile phone connectivity in the UK. As a result the following areas were identified by ITT students as definitely being of support during their course; the calendar or diary scheduler for organising themselves, the spreadsheet of attendance or mark book for organising their pupils and the use of a word processor to make notes on information and events immediately they are encountered. This electronic record was valuable as students could use it when they formally wrote up their experiences at a later date. However, internet access via the portable device was the application that the students considered to be most helpful to both teaching and learning. It was concluded that having the internet literally 'in the hand' affords access to tools and information in a way that does indeed function as distributed intelligence. The student plus PDA meets the person-plus description originally put forward by Perkins (1993) - they are able to do more than they can alone or with other resources. This is due to having ubiquitous access to internet as well as other electronic records and the less obtrusive nature of device. It appeared to be a particular benefit that the PDAs could be kept hidden in a pocket or handbag, at the student teacher's side instantly when needed and returned to the pocket once the need was gone, unlike other information and communications technology (ICT) hardware that sits looming large in the classroom and demanding attention.
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Submitted on : Friday, November 23, 2007 - 8:30:57 AM
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Jocelyn Wishart, Andy Ramsden, Angela Mcfarlane. PDAs and Handhelds: ICT at your side and not in your face. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2007, 16(1), pp.95-110. ⟨hal-00190014⟩

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