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CHAPTER 5. mLEARNING ON THE SCREENPHONE

The proposal

The original project proposal contained the trailling of mLearning on the Ericsson screenphone HS 210. In this way it was felt that all facets of mobile learning could be demonstrated: the screenphone, the Personal digital Assistant (PDA) and the mobile phone.

It was suggested that the project would use the HS 210 or a similar technology to achieve the following sub packages:

  • The provision of course content to off-campus students
  • The provision of feedback to off campus students
  • The provision of student support services for off campus students
  • Links to the WWW and other resources
  • Student to student interactivity
  • Student to tutor and institution interactivity.

Each of these dimensions would be analysed and evaluated on a four point grid for decision makers:

  • Student userfriendliness
  • Didactic effectiveness
  • Technical feasibility
  • Cost effectiveness.

Illustration

This is the HS 210 wireless screen phone first demonstrated in March 2000


The sereenphone offers the following functionality:

  • An A4 size screen that would make studying feasible; this is important given the frequently expressed opinion that the screen size of a mobile phone would make studying difficult
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Bluetooth enabled functionality
  • Internet access
  • Email access
  • Colour screen
  • Touch sensitive screen
  • Speaker telephone
  • Hands-free telephone.

Limitations

With a large screen for studying course content, email access, internet access and telephony, the screenphone has much of the functionality needed for successful mobile learning.

Its major limitation was lack of availability.

The project was designed from the literature evidence that distance learning systems follow the availability of technologies to citizens and that technologies, no matter how pedagogically suitable, were not successful if they were not generally available to students.

It was the penetration of the mobile telephone worldwide that was the nucleus of the project with Noika and Ericsson forecasting that by the end of 2002 there would be 1.000.000.000 of them for a world population of 6.000.000.000.

It was never likely that students would purchase a device like the screenphone merely for the purposes of study. If the screenphone was not generally available in homes for students to use. Its value for mobile learning was minimal.

It was never likely that these large A4-sized phones would penetrate the mass market. This was confirmed in early 2001 when Ericsson suspended production of the screenphone HS 210.

Decision

At its first meeting the project Board of Management was informed that the screenphone had been discontinued and would not be produced.

The Board of Management decided to replace it with another device which was readily available.

This decision does not in any way weaken the project because it is most unlikely that the screen phone would ever have played an important role in mobile learning.


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Last update: August 2002
Editor: Paul Landers