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Ubiquitous Learning and Handhelds

Ubiquitous Learning and Handhelds
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Author(s): Howard Nicholas (La Trobe University, Australia) and Wan Ng (La Trobe University, Australia)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch321


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The concept of ubiquitous computing or Ubicomp was first articulated by Mark Weiser in 1988 at the Computer Science Lab at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Centre). He asserted that the most profound technologies associated with ubiquitous computing are those that disappear as they weave themselves into the framework of our everyday lives. He described Ubicomp as the third wave of computing. The first wave of computing, from 1940 to about 1980, saw the use of one mainframe computer by many people. The second wave saw a one-to-one computer to human ratio where individuals were connected to desktops or laptops. We are now in the third wave of computing where many computers dispersed throughout the physical environment, service one person, and as these technologies recede into the background of people’s lives, they are increasingly being used unconsciously for task completion (Weiser, 1991, 1996). In this regard, ubiquitous computing is viewed as the age of “calm technology” (Weiser and Brown, 1996). In a similar analogy, O’Malley & Fraser (2006) describe technology associated with ubiquitous computing as “tangible” in which “the technology is so embedded in the world that it ‘disappears’ ” (p.2).

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