Universities awarded HP mobility grants

Two Australian universities have been awarded grants of $420,000 from HP to explore and develop the use of mobile technology in education.

The University of Melbourne will use its $220,000 award to investigate the interactive learning and research habits of law, medicine and science students both on and off campus. It will receive 57 iPAQs and 26 Tablet PCs.

Northern Territory University will use its $200,000 grant to trial different learning scenarios – the on campus teaching of IT subjects; a mobile education unit that takes training out to remote and primarily indigenous communities; and university programs to support remote high schools. It has chosen to take 45 Tablet PCs and 7 iPAQs to conduct its studies.

Head of IT at Northern Territory University, Associate Professor, Bob Pascoe, said the grant would enable the university to “challenge the boundaries” of traditional teaching within some of Australia’s most remote communities.

“This technology will allow us to extend the reach of university education and training to regional and remote communities like never before, improving access to information and promoting the acquisition of knowledge,” he said.

HP mobile marketing manager, Stephen Kendrick, said the aim of the philanthropy program was to improve the quality of education and minimise the digital divide between classes.

He said Northern Territory University had chosen to use mostly Tablet PCs because it had much richer functionality while the University of Melbourne would look to use iPAQs within lectures. Third-year Melbourne medical students would use Tablet PCs as diagnostic tools.

A representative from each institution will fly to Palo Alto in California during October to present their findings to other grant recipients from around the world. In total, 10 universities in the US, seven in Europe, Middle East and Africa and seven in Asia-Pacific have been selected to take part in the program.

“They get to engage with academic peers from around the world and see what value other universities have created in different areas,” Kendrick said. “It’s a cross pollination.”

One Australian university submitted a bid but failed to make the program. Kendrick refused to name the one that had missed out but promised it would be involved in the program next year.

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