Education: a viable market sector for mobile computing

12 10 2006

I was delighted to observe today that the education sector is becoming increasingly recognised as a viable market sector for mobile computing device manufacturers. Fujitsu-Siemens are set to unveil a PDA specifically targeted at the education sector, a product they have dubbed an “EDA,” or Educational Digital Assistant.

It would appear that they have developed the product specification in consultation with m-learning practitioners; the product contains such features as wireless connectivity (both Bluetooth and WLAN) to access and record materials remotely, and even GPS to enable location-based/situated learning approaches to be facilitated.

Far from trivialising m-learning, this device uses some of the most powerful components currently available on the market, including class-leading 624MHz processor, a glorious 480×640 VGA resolution display, and built-in 1.3MP still/video camera. Fully charged, the battery will support 500 hours of standby time – actual usage time will depend on how resource-intensive that use is. A full data sheet can be downloaded here.

I do note that the device lacks built-in telephony, and (as I’ve previously mentioned) I think that social connectivity for learning, and the ability to interface with peers and mentors, is a very useful thing for a learner. However, I’m appreciative that adding a mobile telephone feature to this device would considerably increase its price; and furthermore, seeing as just about everyone already has a mobile phone, and young people in particular tend to prefer a sleek fashionable phone over a large chunky functional one anyway, Fujitsu could, perhaps, be right on the money with this specification: this device seems to be intended to supplement a learner’s mobile phone for connectivity, rather than replace it.

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