January 25, 2005

Mobile and PDA technologies and their future use in education

This is the title of the latest JISC Techwatch report, published in November 2004, whch I've just dipped into. Here's their overview:
In recent years there has been a phenomenal growth in the number and technical sophistication of what can loosely be termed 'mobile devices' such as PDAs, mobile phones and media players. Increasingly these devices are also internet-enabled. This JISC report reviews the current state of the art, explores the potential uses within education and discusses some of the trends in technological development such as wireless networking, device convergence and 'always-on' connectivity.
An email update from one of the authors, via the Techwatch email list, last week, points out that there remains considerable uncertainty ('fog') around fast wireless access technologies, but the following conclusion serves to emphasise, for me, the need for libraries and their systems suppliers to be focusing on delivering data and services to these technologies:
... widespread adoption by students and staff of always-on mobile devices will partly be driven by the development of wireless broadband networks that can deliver the Internet to these devices. As the competition to deliver high speeds through the various technology paths increases so the likely time to market for low cost consumer solutions is likely to fall. As currently planned by manufacturers this kind of high speed access should be relatively normal by the end of the decade.
Although this has an academic library perspective, it will surely apply equally to actual and potential users of public libraries because this is about general consumer technology. Once again it's a reminder to take the library to the users, use the technology that they use (redefining the meaning of 'mobile' for libraries!), or be ignored.

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