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Handheld Devices Offer Course Delivery Options

I [MGySgt James O'Keefe, DANTES Special Enlisted Advisor] recently spoke with Carol Thompson, manager of the DANTES Distance Learning Program. One of her roles is to gather data on course delivery options and to disseminate this information to the VolEd community. When asked on the growing phenomenon of handheld devices, she pointed out, "Handheld devices show promise of offering students added options for DL study." She added, "There appears to be greater flexibility, while on-the-go, for the student to 'rewind' the instructor's more salient points, to clarify and reinforce course content. With the DoD emphasis on language-skill development, handheld devices could prove helpful."

One example is the PocketEd Program offered by Coastline Community College. In late 2004, Coastline launched an initial four beta classes in the PocketPC environment. Today, they offer 10 full courses with over 300 Service members enrolled. These interactive courses, with hours of content, are contained on a single postagestamp sized SD card for delivery through any Windows Mobile OS-enabled device (desktop, laptop computer, PocketPC, etc.) In January 2006, Coastline launched a beta run of the program with their partner college, Central Texas College in the Navy College Afloat College Education (NCPACE) Program. Shawn Mann, senior Web/multimedia developer at Coastline Community College says, "This kind of technology was simply not possible just a few years ago, when we first envisioned this method of delivery. As these devices become more robust and standardized, this method of delivery has become extremely effective." One of the greatest benefits Mann cites is that each Coastline course has a real, live, accessible instructor available to students, to facilitate learning. I invite you to visit Coastline's PocketEd Program Web site at http://dl.coastline.edu/pocketed.

As well, Georgia College and State University is using the iPod to maximize higher order thinking in class by using the device to time-shift less demanding work. I invite you to visit http://ipod.gcsu.edu/Course-related/. At this site, you will find links to brief descriptions of iPod-enriched courses and links to videos of faculty and students associated with those courses. iPod videos on this site require QuickTime.

Are DL courses delivered by handheld devices the panacea-granting magic elucidation to the student? No. However, this vehicle does seek to fill the void where servicemembers in isolated or austere settings lack access to course content. This medium also promises exponential adaptations - as technology evolves. For more information or to share your experience with handheld devices, contact Carol Thompson at dstlearn@voled.doded.mil.

Thank you for supporting our servicemembers!

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