PocketLearn Introduces Products That Transform Mobile Phones Into Learning Tools

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Looking to create e-learning standards for mobile devices, PocketLearn introduces free viewers and content creation tools. The company also maintains a web-based, categorized and searchable repository of content and encourages publishers to submit their creations.

Technology startup PocketLearn Inc (http://www.pocketlearn.com) has introduced a suite of software products that enable many cellular telephones and personal digital assistants or “PDA’s” to become mobile tools for learning. Among the products are special “Viewers” that are installed on the devices, as well as Windows based content creation tools. PocketLearn has initially targeted Windows Mobile devices such as the Pocket PC and Smartphone, as well as Java phones. “It’s not widely advertised, but almost all mobile phones today will run Java software. This means that if your device is a true “smart” device that meets the minimum requirements, you can run the software”, said company founder, Jorge Pando. There is also a Windows version of the PocketLearn Viewer, which means it will run on Microsoft’s newly announced “Oregami” device. A version for Palm devices is in the works.

PocketLearn has sought to establish a standard for educational software on these smart devices by building products on top of industry-standard technologies such as HTML and XML, and by making most of their software available for free. Their strategy is to standardize the format of the content and provide viewer software for a variety of devices. Content creators can really focus on content, with the assurance that their creations will be viewable on a very wide range of devices. PocketLearn content can include not only HTML-formatted text, but also images and audio. “Up until now, there has been no standardization in educational software for these devices. Content of any type has been scarce, and you needed a great deal of luck to find the content you wanted for the device that you owned”, added Mr. Pando. PocketLearn content utilizes the familiar “flash card” paradigm, but can also include multiple choice tests, which the viewer software is able to administer, grade, and in many cases export the results for spreadsheet analysis.

Key to the PocketLearn strategy is their online content repository (also at http://www.pocketlearn.com), which serves as a searchable and categorized collection of content that can be downloaded, rated and reviewed by the user community. In fact, the web site is also “small device friendly” and provides a good browsing experience for the limited browsers found on these devices.

“The repository is important because nobody should have to reinvent the wheel. Before you create the content you need, you can make sure that someone else hasn’t already created and published it on the web site,” said Mr. Pando. “We encourage our users to publish any content that they create. While we expect that much of the content will be free, some of the more sophisticated content may come at a price,” he added.

To encourage the creation of content, PocketLearn gives away a Title Development Kit, or “TDK.” The TDK includes documentation, software and examples to allow anyone with a little HTML and XML expertise to create content or “Titles” for the viewers. For those less technical, PocketLearn also makes available a commercial product called “Flash Card Studio” that simplifies the process.

PocketLearn believes that their software can find a home not only among high school, college, and vocational students, but also in the corporate world, where employee training and compliance programs could benefit from the inherent flexibility of a technology that makes the educational material very portable and convenient to use.


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Jorge Pando