Students' experiences with PDAs for reading course materials

Waycott, J. and Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2003). Students' experiences with PDAs for reading course materials. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 7(1) pp. 30–43.



The availability of text reading and editing software for Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) makes it timely to consider whether PDAs are useful tools for reading learning materials. This paper describes a study that evaluated the use of PDAs for reading by students on a Masters course run by the UK Open University. The evaluation consisted of pre- and post-questionnaires, and follow-up interviews. In addition, students discussed their experiences in a computer-based conference. Findings show that while the portability of the device was welcomed by students, and the electronic format was advantageous, limitations such as the small screen size, navigation difficulties, and slow and error-prone methods for entering text, made it difficult to read and interact with documents on the PDA. The paper recommends that further research consider the value of PDAs as reading devices in the context of other potential ways that PDAs can be used as learning tools.

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