Service learning meets mobile computing


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In a year-long service learning project, students developed a mobile guided tour of the North Carolina Arboretum’s Bonsai Exhibition Garden as part of their standard course work at the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNC Asheville). The tour development was mapped into the content of three did these numbers drop, and why more sharply for women than for men For men, the explanation is obvious. Traditional paths to wealth like law, medicine, and business are more certain, and over the
courses: Human Computer Interaction, Database Management Systems, and a special topic course, Radio Frequency Identification. Without exception, the pedagogical impact of integrating the tour deliverables into the standard curriculum was positive.

The project incorporated cutting-edge technology. The initial system architecture integrated personal computing technology, wireless communications, context-awareness, and adaptive hypermedia to support the information needs of the tour. Specifically, we used Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags for location identification and wireless communication to broadcast dynamic information to portable Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) for display in a web browser. Ultimately we determined that the technology chosen for the project was not robust enough for the intended venue. The decision to change the underlying technology did not doom the project to failure, but instead added an authentic lesson to the experience.

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This paper describes a year-long service learning project in which we developed a working prototype of a mobile, location- aware tour for the Bonsai Exhibition Garden of the North Carolina Arboretum. The tour is a web-based, customizable, multimedia presentation on handheld