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Adrian Johnson
Adrian Johnson

Hand Held Learning 2007

We investigated to what extent participants can acquire the mastery of an auditory-substitution-of-vision device ('The vOICe') using dynamic tasks in a three-dimensional environment. After extensive training, participants took part in four experiments. In the first experiment we explored locomotion and localisation abilities. Participants, blindfolded and equipped with the device, had to localise a target by moving a hand-held camera, walk towards the target, and point at it. In the second experiment, we studied the localisation ability in a constrained pointing task. In the third experiment we explored participants' ability to recognise natural objects via their auditory rendering. In the fourth experiment we tested the ability of participants to discriminate objects belonging to the same category. We analysed participants' performance from both an objective and a subjective point of view. The results showed that participants, through sensorimotor interactions with the perceptual scene while using the hand-held camera, were able to make use of the auditory stimulation to obtain the information necessary for locomotor guidance, localisation, and pointing, as well as for object recognition. Furthermore, analysis from a subjective perspective yielded insights into participants' qualitative experience and into the strategies they used to master the device, and thus to pass from a kind of deductive reasoning to a form of immediate apprehension of what is being perceived.

Hand Held Learning 2007

The Leapster Learning Game System is an educational handheld game console aimed at 5 to 10-11 year olds (preschool to fourth grade), made by LeapFrog Enterprises. Its games teach the alphabet, phonics, basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), and art and animal facts to players. Along with a directional pad, the system features a touchscreen with a stylus pen that enables young users to interact directly with the screen.LeapFrog released the Leapster2 handheld device as a successor to the Leapster in July 2008.[1] The Leapster2 is essentially the previous system with an added USB port and SD card slot. These additions give the ability to play a downloaded full game or short game including the ability to log data on gameplay, such as what has been learned by the user or art created by the user. Downloadable games are not for sale.[2]

The Leapster was the best-selling educational handheld game console in America and has sold about 4 million units and 12 million software cartridges since its inception, as of May 2007. It is regularly sold in nine countries directly, and in another 7 for teaching English as a second language in schools.

Motivating learners and helping them to communicate and collaborate with others for learning purposes is one of the most important objectives in education (James and Pollard 2006, p.2). Recent technologies with different features and capabilities support this concern by offering effective ways of communication between teachers and students (Dawes cited in Bingimlas 2009, p.1). Mobile learning which has emerged as a result of this advancement contributes to this objective by facilitating learning activities for different learning styles and different learning institutions (Attewell 2005, p.8). Being more specific, it is the educational value of handheld devices which promote mobile learning (Economides and Nikolaou 2008, p. 2).

Mobile learning with its dependence on advancement of current handheld devices represents a new stage of learning existing from electronic learning and traditional methods of learning (Bajpai 2011, p.1). Although there is a direct contact between teachers and students in traditional way of learning, it suffers from restricting students learning within the boundaries of the classroom. Students miss the course material and training if they do not attend the class (Georgiev, Georgieva and Smrikarov 2004, p.1).

Thus, this kind of learning limits knowledge to the classroom where students are required to travel and be restricted with the course schedule (Wagner, Hassanein and Head 2008, p.3). As a result, electronic learning emerged as an effective learning method allowing learning to occur during the everyday life activities (McDonald 2009, p.2). However, most of the students these days are willing to participate in learning rather than just receiving information. By employing the mobility and connectivity features of current handheld devices, they can facilitate mobile learning activities since they are easily carried anywhere and anytime (Kim 2011, p.3; Wong et. al 2010, p.2).

Finally, interviews will be conducted with four of academics in Sultan Qaboos University to validate the classification, gather views regarding the effectiveness of the devices and collect suggestions about other ways the handheld devices could be introduction into each task.

Unlike the studies mentioned in the previous paragraph, the current study determines the extent to which handheld devices can enhance learning in case they are incorporated into existing assignments without changing the essential nature of the assignment. That is, the researcher will recommend some incorporation of handheld devices in each selected assignment in addition to further suggestions of instances will be raised by the expert panel during the focus semi structured interview. These guarantee maximizing the number of handheld devices incorporation in each assignment to cover almost all possible applications of handheld devices in each selected assignment. These incorporations support different functions such as administrative, collaborative, interactive, reference and data collection.

Moreover, these researches focused on how handheld devices improve learning and help students from different prospective such as class interaction and doing experiments as has been mentioned in above examples.

Different handheld devices features such as web browser, voice recorder and note taker which are used in mobile learning help students in conducting experiments (Cobcroft et al. 2006, p.54). That is, handheld devices support student to act and perform their different tasks.

The market for handheld devices such as PDA, Smartphone and IPod is growing rapidly (Roth 2001, p.1). While Kolb (cited in Mohamad and Woollard 2009, p.3) mentioned that as mobile phones and handheld devices are becoming common and popular among students, they can be used as a motivating tool for learning. Herrington and Herrington (2007, p.3) argued that the small size of handheld devices is matching with current student learning style and that students are connivance with ubiquitous of handheld devices. From this point of view they therefore, acknowledge that mobile devices can have possibilities to improve education and learning.

Admittedly, Smartphones and PDAs contain all the essential features of handheld devices which can enhance learning. These devices can be used to carry out various assignments effectively. More so, these devices have already been used for a while, so it is possible to draw some conclusions concerning the effectiveness of these devices. It is also possible to point out that these devices are quite popular among young people, and this which makes them really valuable as these devices can be used during the class to make student more involved while completing their tasks.

Following on from the elements discussed above, mobile learning facilitates sharing ideas and information immediately by using the built-in photographic function of handheld devices (Chiu and Hung 2009, p. 1). Many studies have explored this element further. For instance, Seppala and Alamaki (2003, p.1) conducted a mobile project at the Department of Home Economics and Craft Science in University of Helsinki by allowing teachers and students to discuss some teaching issues by using handheld devices.

Besides the personalized learning discussed above, many researchers argued that the current advancement in mobile learning connectivity can further empower students by enabling them to collaborate with other students as well as with their lectures within and beyond classrooms (Cobcroft et. al 2006, p. 6). In particular, this gives potential to the students to built rich social communities to interact with lecturers and other students based on connectivity prospect of handheld devices (Kineo 2009, p.2).

PDA and Smartphone are the two handheld devices which have been selected in support of this research. As mentioned above, these devices have all the most valuable features which can be used to enhance learning. More so, these devices are available for the majority of students nowadays which is also very important as all students will be able to benefit from the use of certain devices (not only a group of students).

Many researchers consider the availability of these devices to be one of their advantages (Rawlinson and Bartel 2006, p. 44). Finally, these devices have been used for quite a long time, so a lot of software is available. Therefore, new ways to use these devices constantly appear. Hence, the following paragraphs focus on PDA and Smartphone by highlighting their most important features and functions that justify their selection in support of this research on one hand and explain how they can facilitate learning and education on another hand.

Other significant features that most of the current manufacturers include in PDA are their ability to support internet access and Bluetooth connectivity, reading electronic books, running MP3 files (Hewlett-Packard Company 2000, p.1). In term of internet access, PDA can communicate to internet through different wireless technologies discussed previously in handheld devices section (Jansen and Scarfone 2008, p. 12).

Similarly to PDA, phones started out simply as devices to make voice calls with weight and size of a brick and over the time they faced a rapid improvement to become a handheld device with network capabilities (Jansen and Scarfone 2008, p.13). These capabilities can be explained by high ubiquitous connectivity, in which Smartphone remains connected to the high speed internet wherever the user goes, improved storage capability , better battery life and email and voice messaging (Brown and Metcalf 2008, p. 2-3).


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