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Written by Handheld Learning Team on Wednesday, 04 October 2006
/girl.jpgIt hardly feels like a year since our last conference but this one is promising to be another special one.

We enjoyed our last conference so much and the feedback from delegates was so positive that we felt that we'd already set ourselves a challenge to take this years event a bit further.

Moving from Goldsmith College to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster has been quite a leap and we must say that it could only have been made possible with the help of our supporters and a community which continues to grow.

So much has happened since Handheld Learning 2005. Last year we were hearing about new initiatives that were just starting. This year we will be able to discover the progress these projects have made and whether their use of mobile technologies has provided any improvements in teaching and learning. Perhaps inspired by last years event many new initiatives began and this year too we will be able to learn about these projects and also share our experiences in the networking sessions during breaks and the social reception.

Hopefully by now you will have had the opportunity to download and peruse the programme for this years conference where you'll find a collection of some of the leading thinkers, policy makers and practitioners who have come together to share their knowledge, opinions and experiences. We make no apologies for the mind-boggling variety of the programme and the sheer number of options available to each delegate. There is now so much happening in the field of handheld learning and so many people involved it's clear that it would be impossible to cover everything in just a single strand.

In the past 12 months several new technologies have emerged that have enormous potential within the teaching and learning domain. The consumer electronic giants Nintendo and Sony both launched handheld gaming devices. With powerful processing capability and access to the Internet as well as entertainment software these devices sold more in their first few months of launch than the entire handheld computer industry combined. Now the Nintendo DS, for example, sells over 140,000 units in Europe each week. While some universities strive for the $100 laptop these devices are already on the market. They even made mental arithmetic fun! Can we really ignore them?

Similarly, Symbian the producer of the operating system in many mobile phones such as those by Nokia and Sony Ericsson, rather than adopting a bloat-ware strategy that requires more silicon, introduced an upgrade to their software that allows for mid-priced smart phones using less chips to be mass produced. With over 90% of UK secondary school students owning a mobile phone, their migration to smart phone technology is imminent. Will you embrace them or ban them?

Earlier this year Microsoft and Intel introduced the UMPC or Origami platform with Samsung being one of the lead manufacturers with the Q1. Clearly a nod to recognising that mobility will be a key factor in the future of computing and effectively putting the power of PC into a much more portable unit. You'll be able to see the Q1 in action in the delegates lounge.

Then, of course, there is the iPod where Apple are taking a typically different tack on mobility in learning where there vision is one of seamless integration between desktop/laptop creativity for delivery of media via the iPod and the distribution of materials for learning such as lectures via podcasting. The presentations in the Churchill Auditorium are being recorded for later podcasting courtesy of Apple.

A surprise announcement during the year was that Palm decided to support both Palm OS and Windows Mobile on their Treo smart phones. These will be on show at the conference.

A constant burden amongst those using technology in the education sector is that they are often forced to use systems designed for office or consumer use that don't take into account the particular needs of the classroom or their usage. Handheld computers are a classic example of this, they are devices designed as an adjunct to an existing PC for use by business people who want to manage their personal information when they are away from the desk. Hardly what is required when considering the notion of one per child use where there isn't an individual PC and the device has to survive the school day, rain or shine, along with the school bag.

So are the industry players listening?

Well you have your chance to put your questions to several industry leaders participating in the industry discussion panel on the Thursday afternoon. At least one manufacturer, Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, is stepping up to the challenge and will be launching a new handheld computer designed specifically for schools at the conference and will be hosting the social reception (drinks and canapés)  as a celebration.

All this technology is of no use without content and software. This year we have been thrilled by the number of companies and speakers working in this area who have come to participate in the event. In the delegates lounge you can meet Espresso Education, Futurelab, JISC Techdis, Grid Club, Tribal CTAD, Caspian Learning, LGT and Valiant Technology alongside technology providers Cisco Systems, Nokia and Steljes.

Securing sources of funding and using it wisely is always a challenge and organising a scheme to provide students with mobile devices is no different. The National e-Learning Foundation and Syscap will be on hand to answer your questions with the Foundation presenting a surgery on Friday morning in the Fleet Room.

We look forward to welcoming everybody to this years conference, seeing old faces and meeting new ones is sure to be an exciting occasion. Those travelling from a long distance we wish you a safe and pleasant journey.

See you on the 12th!

/hl2006

Comments from the forum:
Handheld Learning 2006
davew    June 27th, 2006 - 6:02 PM
Hi Dave Here,

Wolverhampton are having a stand at HHL 2006 (For details see the main site)

How many of you are interested in coming...HuhHuhHuhHuhHuhHuhHuhHuh??

We will be given a small number of reserved free places by Graham... I think ,, Wink

But if you want to take a larger group of staff then please see the E learning foundation website for subsidised places... BUT be quick as their offer runs out on the 30th June....

Please add a comment on the this thread if you are interested...

Will also try email

Regards

Dave
Re: Handheld Learning 2006
Graham    June 27th, 2006 - 9:06 PM
Hi Dave

Link to the e-Learning Foundation subsidised delegate scheme is at:
/elf/

Link for more information about the event itself is at:
/hl2006

It's going to be an exciting, stimulating event and we're looking forward to seeing everybody Cheesy

Cheers!

Graham

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