Origami, An Educators Perspective PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Whyley on Sunday, 19 March 2006
/davew.jpgDavid Whyley - ICT Consultant Headteacher, handheld learning guru and key figure in Wolverhampton's Learning2Go initiative, the largest handheld computer pilot currently in Europe, takes a trip over to CeBIT to meet Microsoft's Origami first hand to see what all the hype is about and assess it's possibilities for use in Schools.

/microsoft_origami_1.jpgOn Tuesday 14th March, Jill Purcell and I from the Wolverhampton Learning2Go Project were fortunate enough to be invited to the CeBIT exhibition in Hanover Germany. As you may be aware this is arguably the largest technology exhibition held in the world.
The exhibition is held over 27 enormous halls and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the event. In 1 day we managed to briefly look at 3 halls!

After attending a few meetings in the morning, we decided to go and hunt down “Project Origami” from Microsoft. We had been led to believe that this was the place where it was to be launched to a drooling public.
We asked at the information desk and we were directed to hall 4 where the main Microsoft stand was. Now I was under the impression that Project Origami was the next big thing in ICT, but I did start to get a little concerned when Jill and I couldn’t find the project on the Microsoft stand. Was I naïve in thinking that it would be centre stage and the queue would be 3 deep waiting to look at it???

Well, at the third time of asking, someone on the massive Microsoft stand actually knew what Project Origami was and directed us to it. The project was tucked away in a remote corner of the Microsoft main stand and had one Microsoft person and only two people looking at the two devices on show.

Well at least we didn’t have to wait long to get our hands on one!
We were given a quick demo by the sales person who showed us the cool animated user interface that reminded me of the animated menus on Microsoft Mediacentre. See my video (AVI format) scrolling through the menu pages.


As I said there were 2 devices on the Microsoft stand the ASUS and the FOUNDER. The ASUS was permanently plugged in.


For an outline of the Microsoft view of project Origami follow this super link…

Here are our impressions :-
The device will certainly be of interest to all of us I am sure.
It is basically a tablet PC with a really cool user interface. It can be operated by pen like a tablet and also has a really nice on-screen keypad which you operate with both hands like those ergonomic keyboards of a few years ago.
The device is around 28 x 15 cm’s that is around 11 x 6" in old Money. It is quite chunky and like all tablet PC’s runs quite hot. The screen is 7” tft at 800 x 480 resolution. So, all in all, it is quite big. Much bigger than my OQO. It would be too big to fit in anyone’s pocket. All but one of the devices we saw were plugged in and battery life was expected to be around 2 hours.

As described the user interface was easy to use and the device would work like a tablet PC giving media player, internet and full office. BUT like any Windows XP machine is NOT instant on and it would take a couple of minutes to boot up.
On the Left side of the device were 2 mouse buttons and a direction pad to navigate with. On the right were enter page up, page down buttons and some buttons for media player etc.
It has all of the usual interfaces 2 x usb ports, wireless, Bluetooth , headphone, mic socket, WLAN, etc.
The devices will have a 1Ghz Processor and space for upto 1Gb of Ram. The hard drive will be 40Gb in the first device. So you can see how it will consume power.
There were a couple of other manufacturers. Most notably Samsung who are going to market the Q1. This did receive more centre stage on the Samsung stand but it was being marketed as an executive tool with accessories such as a usb keyboard and hard drive, all in a posh leather executive case.

The most interesting manufacturer was Amitek who had some real funky colours. /origami_amtekcovers.jpg

Amitek say that the intended market is :-

Market Segment
PDA replacement, Easy to carry PC, 2nd PC for laptop extension

Targeted Users
Education Market, Business Travelers, Note pad for Student

Prices will be around 700 euros or more and they will not be available for a couple of months at least.
In Conclusion
We will obviously have to get one and put it through it’s paces but I just get the feeling that we seem to have been here before with the RM tablet PC.
Given that, it was tucked away on the Microsoft Stand. Are they really committed to it? Is this a last ditch attempt to revive the failure of Tablet PC’s?

Only time will tell.
All of the inherent problems with the tablet PC will come with Origami; weight, heat, size, lack of true portability and the fact that it will not be instant on also the price will probably make Origami a difficult device to place. I also wonder how will it synchronise with the user area on a school network?
However the device does show that the move towards a Handheld personal computing device is drawing closer and that the mainstream players such as Microsoft and Intel are paying attention so we must be on the right track mustn’t we?
Now there were some other must have gadgets at CeBit, but that is another story…


iPod therefore I Origami?

Dave Whyley on Behalf of the Wolverhampton Learning2Go Team

David Whyley is an former Primary Headteacher, who has now assumed the role of ICT Consultant for the City of Wolverhampton. David has associate status with BECTA, and has contributed to the Primary National Strategy Leadership team Toolkit and a number of the NCSL on line self evaluation matrix tools. He is a NAACE Mark assessor and an accredited SLICT facilitator. David has expertise in developing new ways of teaching and learning exploiting both broadband and portable learning technologies. As a lead member of the Wolverhampton “Learning2Go!” mobile learning project, he has recently presented the main findings of the project nationally and internationally, most recently at the 8th World Conference on Computers in Education – Capetown and Handheld Learning 2005 - London.

If you have enjoyed or found this article useful you may wish to share your knowledge or experiences with the rest of the international Handheld Learning Community by submitting an article. This site supports many other sites via its RSS feed as well as Google News. If you'd like to be considered for publication on this site please submit via articles@handheldlearning.co.uk

Comments from the forum:
Origami, An Educators Perspective
jonnydavey    March 20th, 2006 - 1:46 PM
Do you think it could be used in a classroom effectively, I'm specifically thinking about the keyboard.
Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
Graham    March 20th, 2006 - 4:09 PM
If I'm reading David correctly I think he's saying that an Origami PC would be as effective in the classroom as any Tablet PC with a keyboard.

Most handheld computers, Windows Mobile or Palm OS based, support inexpensive external keyboards costing £20 and up. I have a neat one that goes with my Treo phone and folds-up into a size smaller than many PDA's. There's also those funky laser "virtual keyboards" that beam a functioning keyboard onto any flat surface for use with handhelds.

Battery powered keyboards (usually a couple of AA's that last around 6 months) mean that you don't drain the power on the handheld computer either.

Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
James Clay    March 21st, 2006 - 2:06 PM
Do you think it could be used in a classroom effectively, I'm specifically thinking about the keyboard.

As it uses the Tablet PC OS, the handwriting recognition can be quite good, I have been impressed with the handwriting recognition with respect of the Tablet PC I have been using.

If it has USB you could always plug a USB keyboard into it, or Bluetooth is another option.

I suppose a question that you need to ask is how do you envisage using it in the classroom.

We are putting together for one of the WCC Colleges a package for their Hair and Beauty Salons the use of a Tablet PC combined with a wireless projection system but using 40" LCD screens, and I am thinking about using wireless keyboards to allow direct entry by the learner from anywhere in the room.

James Clay
Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
jont    March 23rd, 2006 - 8:21 AM
The mention of keyboards prompted the thoughts,

 Is typing taught in schools?

 Will there be problems with RSI earlier as people are using keyboards from a lower age.

 With the projection keyboards what are the potential problems of people typing against a solid surface with no cushioning...llike a desk.. ie If you provided them to students to use  and they did have any RSI type problems who would be liable?

(I keep getting tempted to buy one of those projection keyboards, to misuse it as a MIDI controller....)
Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
Graham    March 23rd, 2006 - 1:10 PM
Good point about the laser keyboards Jon!

I've used one for a while and whilst you get the WOW! factor when you show them at conference you soon realise after using them why decent quality keyboards feature feedback and movement designed precisely to prevent or at least alleviate R.S.I.

I have to wonder how long the current notion of the Qwerty keyboard will continue given it's roots in mechanical type-setting in the early 1900's.

Maybe we should be considering the tuition of alternative data entry. I simply can't imagine people typing at the end of this century!

Captain Kirk wasn't a typist Cheesy

Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
toxfly    April 1st, 2006 - 4:16 PM
I'm going to be a luddite and predict we'll still be using keyboards in 50 years. I've used each suceeding generation of handwriting recognition software and whilst it gets better, its dam frustrating and at the end I invariably give up.

The problem is the same as speech recognition. The computer might learn your particular way of speaking or writing, but what about  the other 20 users the computer will have that week? Also lots of kids handwriting is dreadful and as the mistakes still seem to be about 5% the labourious time spent correcting soon mounts up.

Finally there is a tactile problem in handwriting recognition. The unbending nature of the screen startes to make my skin crawl. It''s not paper, its not springy like a keyboard.

I think its back to keyboard lessons...
Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
James Clay    April 3rd, 2006 - 10:11 AM
Finally there is a tactile problem in handwriting recognition. The unbending nature of the screen startes to make my skin crawl. It''s not paper, its not springy like a keyboard.

That is something I find, I usually need a pad or a magazine and can not write direct to a single piece of paper on a desk or table.

I wonder if a future Tablet PC could have that springiness?
Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
Sim    April 4th, 2006 - 7:05 PM

 Is typing taught in schools?
Many primary schools have had touch typing programmes for a long time (although it was hailed as a revolution on the news a few days ago). Whether or not they actually teach typing depends on the timetable and the motivation of the staff!!

Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
davew    April 5th, 2006 - 10:49 PM
Hi All,

Can I refocus this thread to look at the potential of the Origami device in the classroom....

Who will be trying it?

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages?

DaveW Undecided
Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
Graham    April 18th, 2006 - 4:44 PM
Well done Dave for bringing us back to the subject in hand Smiley

Something spotted in the Korean Times highlighted the issues you raise concerning battery life and usability. In this unintentionally amusing report it appears that everything that could go wrong, went wrong when the VP of Samsung's PC division attempted to present the Q1 at a news conference.


Kim first tried to start the Powerpoint presentation, which was saved in his Q1. But after introducing himself, he failed to turn to the second page while his staff nervously watched him.

Unlike conventional laptops, Q1 does not have a built-in keyboard. Users type on its touch-screen keyboard or on a small external keyboard that users may find uncomfortable and unfamiliar to use.

After spending several nerve-racking minutes trying to solve the problem on his own, Kim was finally helped by one of his staff to get to the next page.

"This kind of mistake happens in every presentation, even though you practice it all night,'' he said.

But that was not the end of his bad day.

Several pages later, the large projection screen suddenly completely went black. Samsung's staff again rushed to help the vice president, and found the Q1's battery has run out.

It is not known why the battery only lasted for a few minutes of the presentation. However, Kim later admitted that Q1 has three hours of battery life and two hours when watching a DVD, which is comparably short to other laptops.



To be fair many of us have probably had our fair share of "anxiety sensitive" computer moments where nothing seems to go right but this story does sound almost Pythonesque!
Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
cardav    April 19th, 2006 - 11:10 AM
Photos: Top Ten Worst Tech Products of 2006
Intel's voice-activated remote control, Sony's Walkman Bean, Kazaa 3.0, and (shudder) MS Origami--these are just a few of the worst crimes against technology perpetrated upon consumers this year. Check out this gallery of the Top Ten Worst Tech Products of 2006.

Found on the TechRepublic website!

Enjoy  Undecided

Intel Eduwise notebook
andyb    May 5th, 2006 - 3:56 PM

this is worth a read re intel plans
Does small for mean handheld ?? "Intel’s Discover the PC Initiative provides customized technology solutions that enable new types of PCs to meet the specific needs of the developing world. These include low-cost, fully featured, easy to use PCs for home and work; Community PCs customized for public access PC kiosks in rural areas; and low-cost PCs tailored to the needs of schools and educators. One design, codenamed “EduWise,” is a small-form-factor notebook PC designed specifically for student computing and the unique needs of teaching and interactive learning in the classroom."

Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
Mark van 't Hooft    May 9th, 2006 - 4:42 PM
The question, does small mean handheld? is a good one. I've been tossing around the issue of defining what a handheld is with some of my colleagues here. One of the conclusions we've reached is that it doesn't just depend on the device (size, shape, footprint, etc.), but also the user. Small for an adult may mean something different than small for a child, e.g. a six-year old. One definition we will be using for some writing we will do soon is this one (note that we are using the device in question here not a handheld, but a highly mobile device, because it includes more than what we would probably consider to be a handheld:

•   high mobility (that is, they are small enough that elementary school students can hold the device in one hand and carry it from place to place);
•   a small footprint (so that they do not intrude in face-to-face interactions);
•   the computational and display capabilities to view, collect, or otherwise use representations and/or large amounts of data; and
•   the ability to support collaboration and/or data sharing.

Devices included in our definition are PDAs, mobile phones, some tablet computers, networked graphing calculators, the recently announced Origami device, the new generation of handheld gaming systems, iPods, motes, data loggers, etc.  The definition leaves out traditional laptop computers; while they have been found to be useful in education (and much has been written about their virtues), they do not fit our definition of highly mobile, and their footprint is such that they tend to intrude in face-to-face interactions.

Note that one of the foci of this definition is the idea that a highly mobile device supports and encourages interaction between users, esp. face-to-face interactions (like we would envision in a classroom or informal environment). A laptop, for example, tends to be less effective in this respect, just because of its sheer size (and we've found this even with smaller laptops). Being able to hold the device in one hand and not having to set it down seems to be the key. This does work with something like a tablet, because it tends to get used/held more like a clipboard, cradled on the forearm.

Re: Origami, An Educators Perspective
gerry.gray    June 20th, 2006 - 3:22 PM
Hi Dave, hello everyone,
I've taught a lot with Tablet PCs and the students are much more switched on to the technology (what's the term you use Dave... digital natives?).  I think that these UMPCs would hit my classroom and be as inspirational as Tablets were 3/4 years ago.  Yes, I know there are problems with these little Windows computers, most annoying being the start up time, battery life and overheating; and I would like these devices to have a digital video camera so we could video experiments, but I suppose a USB webcam will do.  I think these have got to be better than a Tablet because of the weight, and surely better than a PDA, where you can't author in, say, Powerpoint.  I can't wait to get my hands on one.. I can't find the Amitek manufacturer you mention - I want to find out how much a class set would cost!

(14) Leave a Comment
Last Updated ( Sunday, 19 March 2006 )
< Previous   Next >


Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
November 21, 2008, 12:53:56 PM


Login with username, password and session length
Forgot your password?