Digital assistant sought

4th November 2005 at 00:00
Wanted: local authority seeks robust handheld computer to restart stalled, but potentially revolutionary, change in its schools.

It's a simple enough request. But while there are plenty of personal digital assistants (PDAs), many well-quipped with cameras, voice recorders and MP3 players, none of them meet the exacting standards of the Future Learning Team at the Dudley Grid for Learning. So far, Dudley's John Davies has put more than 1,000 PDAs (Palm Tungstens and Zires) into local schools, he told delegates at last month's Handheld Learning conference at Goldsmiths College, London.

They made such an impact that he wants another 30,000, but he hasn't found one that meets simple, but crucial, criteria - tough enough for school, with a dedicated case and Bluetooth capability, and replaceable within 24 hours. They must also be able to run educational resources, which means they have to be capable of running materials created in Flash, an issue that Palm has not yet cracked for Dudley.

The problem is that PDAs are designed for adults in business, not pupils in schools. Perhaps what is needed is something new - an Educational Digital Assistant (EDA) was the suggestion put to the conference by QCA head of e-strategy Martin Ripley.

The full report of the conference can be found at:

John Galloway

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