U of G to House Canada's First Mobile Education Research Centre

February 25, 2008 - News Release

A University of Guelph professor is establishing Canada's first mobile education research centre, with the support of a $620,000 grant from Research in Motion (RIM).

The Centre for Mobile Education Research (CMER) will be housed in the University of Guelph's Department of Computing and Information Science and directed by Prof. Qusay Mahmoud, who has published two books on wireless computing, Learning Wireless Java and Cognitive Networks. Among other topics, researchers will examine ways to incorporate wireless devices into classrooms and labs around the globe and promote leading-edge research projects and partnerships.

"One of our goals is to become a world leader in educating students on software development and related topics for the latest technology platforms," said Mahmoud. "We'll be helping universities integrate mobile devices into their computer science and engineering curriculums, and creating research opportunities along the way."

He added that incorporating wireless devices into the curriculum of any academic discipline makes sense in university environments, because students tend to be up on the latest technology.

"Mobile devices now outnumber desktop computers 20 to 1. For many students, the mobile device is becoming the computer. This calls for innovation in the computer science curriculum.”

He notes that the size and flexibility of mobile devices like the BlackBerry and other smart phones make them a great tool for both changing the image of computer science and for improving teaching and learning. These devices can be used in the classroom for everything from conveying concepts to increasing student interest. For example, students can practise writing applications for wireless products, such as their own cellphones. This gets them excited about learning and helps them develop programming skills."

David Dietz of RIM adds that the computing power of today’s mobile devices allows them to be used as a platform for a virtually unlimited number of applications. “We admire the initiative shown by Prof. Mahmoud and the University of Guelph in training its students to harness this power and in sharing these methods with the global academic community.”

CMER will produce educational materials and pedagogical methods to support teaching mobile application development. The first project will be an academic kit, that contains the concepts, code and sample assignments for computer science instructors who want to integrate BlackBerry devices into their programming courses.

The centre will also hold tutorials, workshops and other outreach activities. Mahmoud plans to deliver tutorials in venues around the world. The first two will be held in March in Portland, Ore. at the Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education and in April in Amman, Jordan, at the International Conference on Interactive Mobile and Computer Aided Learning.

In addition, researchers at the centre will also focus on translating research into practical improvements and innovations for the mobile device industry.

Prof. Qusay Mahmoud
Computing & Information Science
519 824-4120, Ext. 58762

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982, d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca

University of Guelph
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Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1