Mobile computing pilot, phase two starts this month
August 14, 2006
This fall, Wake Forest will begin the second phase of its mobile computing pilot program designed to explore possible advantages of mobile technology in an academic environment.
About 100 students are signed up for this year’s program. They will test how the Cingular 8125 Pocket PC phone can be used on a wireless campus to enhance academic and social life.
As a leader in the use of technology in teaching and learning, Wake Forest continues to investigate the proper role for mobile technology at the university. In the fall of 2005, Wake Forest was among the first universities in the country to explore the possible uses of PocketPC phones on campus with the first phase of its pilot program. The program received interest nationwide and helped the university earn a spot on CIO Magazine’s CIO 100 list this month.
Various software and special features have been loaded onto the Pocket PC phones, including LaundryView, a program that allows students to use voice commands to find out how many washers and dryers are currently in use to avoid wasting time in on-campus laundry rooms waiting for available machines. DontRing is a feature that automatically cuts off the phone’s ringer when a student’s calendar shows they are in class. The device also has Microsoft Office; a 1.3 megapixel digital camera; e-mail and calendar on-the-go with Microsoft Exchange/Outlook; a keyboard; and full mobile phone capabilities.
“We are trying to learn if there is enough value to students and the university to move forward with this on a larger scale,” said Jay Dominick, chief information officer at Wake Forest. “We’re at the beginning of this wave, just like we were with ThinkPads 10 years ago.”
Wake Forest has partnered with a single vendor, Cingular, for this phase of the pilot program to get the best pricing on Pocket PC devices and service plans. Students who participate in the program receive a 20 percent discount on their cell phone service and get a discount on the Pocket PC phone.
The university has also worked with Cingular to make some improvements to the cellular system on campus with coverage points added in 10 buildings to provide better coverage in basements and other areas.
About a dozen faculty and staff are also participating in this year’s pilot program.
Students who have not signed up for the pilot, but would like to participate may complete an online form at http://mobileu.wfu.edu/?page=new.and.updated.plans. Students locked into a voice plan with another provider can still participate by signing up for a data plan. For additional information, go to the MobileU Web site http://mobileu.wfu.edu, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.