lot of students an edge, because you can't always sit down at your desk to do your work," Kilemi said. "If you have classes the entire day, you might leave your laptop at home and carry your heavy books. With the PDA you can check e-mail between classes, and send yourself homework assignments and do research."
The mobile PDA also simplifies everyday tasks. Former college students probably remember the frustration and time lost waiting for laundry machines to free up and laundry cycles to end.
Wake Forest's LaundryView application allows students to monitor which laundry machines are available and where their own laundry is in the cycle. In the pilot's first phase, LaundryView was only available to students in the Technology Quarters house, but now it's available in all residence halls. The laundry application was so popular with participants that they made requests for similar applications -- such as a connection to the weight room and gym to monitor available treadmills and machines -- to be deployed in the second phase of the pilot.
I'm Here. Where Are You?
During an exam study period, finding a place to plunk down in a college library can be difficult, and accurately describing to a study partner exactly where you're located in the library labyrinth can be even harder, particularly in sprawling libraries with multiple floors and study spaces.
Wake Forest's 2005 program also tested location-based services with the PDA, allowing students to send a virtual message to a pal indicating their exact position in a building, whether among the stacks or nestled in a corner carrel.
"So if I've come to meet with you, I just touch it and it brings up the building directory," Crouch explained. "If I get there and get called away and find a great corner, I can use this device and software to leave a message 'in space' that associates me with the access point. It's a virtual message, location-based, and once you come in the building, you can pull up all the messages that have been typed in. It's like getting an e-mail, but it's only based on where you are."
Crouch likened the device to students putting whiteboards on their dorm room doors, which was a popular communication method in the past.
Eighty percent of Wake Forest students live in dormitories on the Winston-Salem, N.C., campus, and many rely on a shuttle service to travel between buildings. One component of the pilot program's first phase was a shuttle tracker application that showed the shuttle's location on campus at all times.
Students pulled up the shuttle application, used the PDA's voice activation features to work with a multimodal browser that talked back to them, and the PDA brought up a campus map and a report of how many minutes the student would need to wait at the stop. A GPS tracker and a connection between the PDA and campus server generated the information and gave the student an exact indication.
The PDAs can access a wireless connection in any campus building and in some outdoor spots, but Crouch said the information services department is working on expanding access to more outdoor areas, including parking lots.
No More Naps During Lecture
In the pilot's first phase, students were more likely to use the PDA as their phone, class calendar and music player than for direct academic purposes, noted Crouch. But this time, some faculty members will test the PDAs to help pass along notes to students during the day, such as study tips, and others will apply for mini-grants.
Professor Bob Swofford, with the help of WFU's information services, set an example during the first pilot and successfully integrated the PDA in his introductory-level chemistry course.