OSWALD: Building an inexpensive Open Source UMPC for Education

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Excerpt

The Oregon State Wireless Active Learning Device (OSWALD) is a fully featured Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC) platform, designed by students, for students. The goals of the project include a desire to give more students access to inexpensive cutting-edge Open Source technology. The OSWALD will be used in the ECE and CS programs at Oregon State University starting Spring 2009.

Description

The OSWALD encourages students to experiment and explore every aspect of computing. The OSWALD provides a flexible, yet powerful platform that can adapt to meet the needs of a large number of course topics and student interests. The OSWALD serves as a ‘platform for learning’ – providing continuity, context, and a focal point for course content. Every part of the device is Open Source; from the hardware layer to the application layer, every bit is available for students to study and modify as they wish. By keeping costs down to a minimum and providing all students with the same platform, we reduce the risks of exploration, as local support becomes readily available, and the device is easily replaceable. Through its local focus, the OSWALD creates a new community where new and seasoned open source developers can come together to share software, hardware, and ideas.

Come learn how a group of undergraduate students at Oregon State designed, prototyped, manufactured, programmed, and deployed a brand new open source computing platform designed for education. See a demo and play with the device. We will discuss how it was received in its first term at Oregon State, what can be improved, thoughts on new curriculum leveraging the device, and other educational and community uses for the platform. Anyone with an interest in the intersection of computer science education and open source development, or low-cost open source UMPC devices will find this session to be filled with useful and pertinent information.

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