Mobile Wireless Education in a Catering School
Investigating the best use of mobile
wireless devices in a catering school for enhancing teaching
on the field (in the kitchen and in the rooms) out of the
classroom. The same result can be applied in the working
environment for accessing "on the job" instructions.
The SAFI school is an ELIS activity called "Istituto
Professionale per i Servizi Alberghieri e di Ristorazione",
recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education. As a catering
school it started in 1964. The school is residential with 40
students in a college. It means that they are able to study and
work in a real environment. They train themselves, together with
professionals, caring for food, laundry and cleaning of a hall
of Residence for students of the ELIS Vocational Training
The students are 14 to 19 years old and come
mostly from small towns in the south of Italy where they have
scarce possibilities of accessing higher education.
SAFI importance can be measured by a Google
search on the words Istituto Professionale Alberghiero,
where it ranks first (search performed on January 12, 2004).
The presence of ELIS School in the same
building enhances the project in the technology issues: the
know-how of ELIS allows for a high quality implementation and
management of the hardware and software involved.
Cedel – Cooperativa sociale educativa
ELIS is a non profit institution dedicated to education,
training and mentoring.
school normally runs a good part of its teaching in a training
environment. It is difficult to access textual or multimedia
resources while in a kitchen or in a ironing room or in a
bedroom. Books can be too heavy to carry, whiteboards cannot be
placed where they are more needed, digital projectors and
screens are almost impossible to integrate in a kitchen and
cannot be carried along all the bedrooms. Therefore the
introduction of wireless mobile devices helps in providing
the necessary information in any place.
mobile devices, the students will be aware of their utility in a
complex environment like a hotel, a residence or a tourist
resort. They will be
able to suggest their future employers the use of wireless
technology to ensure fast localization (by voice, with
VoIP on the WLAN, or by instant messaging) and immediate access
to useful information on the job.
Two possible scenarios in a hotel are:
The worker finds a beehive in a hotel
room. Before calling a special team for removing it, he or she
can browse the hotel intranet for specific information on the
topic and how to handle the situation. If the employee is given
Internet access, he or she can look for more instructions using
a search engine.
The client in room 226 calls the concierge
and tells him not to disturb him until 11:00. and later clean
the armchair where he dropped some wine. The concierge updates
the hotel intranet. When the worker starts cleaning the rooms in
the second floor, she checks for special tasks on her palm
computer and decides not to knock on room 226 until 11:30 and
provides herself with the cleaning kit for leather. When she
goes to the room, she takes a photo of the armchair with the
built-in camera of her iPAQ before and after the cleaning to
record the successful activity. She finally updates the intranet
checking the status of the completed task and suggesting an
addition to the cleaning instructions for better results.
By always having the complete situation of
the hotel, she can plan her activities in the best way,
optimizing her schedule.
Work is needed to
prepare teaching material suitable for reading on a small screen
or on a Tablet PC. Rugged cases should be provided for some
environments in which the device is at risk of damage.
goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of wireless mobile
devices in a catering school and in general in on
the job training.
October 2004: Teaching how to
use iPAQ and Tablet PC
November 2004: Installation of the
wireless access points
December 2004: Preparation of teaching
material including videos
January 2004: Tests on delivering
teaching content through iPAQ and Tablet PC
February 2005: Start of routine
activity in teaching with iPAQ and Tablet PC
March 2005: First report
March-July 2005: Revision of
the methodology and new routine activities
October 2005: Final report
Installation of the wireless access points
activity will be the installation of the access points in all
laboratories and places where the students are supposed to use
mobile devices. Test
for interferences will be accomplished where there are strong
power machines, such as lavatories.
Teaching how to use iPAQ and Tablet PC
teaching phase is not a simple one, because of the lack of
familiarity with these new devices. As the students of SAFI come
from small towns of southern Italy and mostly from low social
levels, they are not used to have personal computer or
electronic devices. The informatics lab of SAFI covers this lack
of formation but there is a special need for training in the use
of iPAQ's and Tablet PC's.
Preparation of teaching material including
reports and scanned pictures will be prepared for the specific
teaching on small displays. Some of the lessons in the classroom
or in the working environment will be video recorded. Thus the
students will be able to review what they learned using the iPAQ,
at any time and in any place. A simple search system, derived
from the one developed by Mediateca-ELIS will be used, in order
to retrieve the proper information in a short time.
The availability of a digital camera attached
to an iPAQ gives the chance of taking pictures of the peculiar
situation in which a student is involved for further study or,
for example, allows taking a photo of a special food preparation
to compare it with the required one.
Tests on delivering teaching content through
IPAQ and Tablet PC
preparing the teaching material, a period of testing will be
necessary. Feedback from tutors, professors and students will be
gathered to improve the production process.
The hardware and software infrastructure will
be finalized in this period with the help of the Sistemi
Informativi ELIS department.
The robustness of the device is an open
issue. Using rugged cases or other protections we hope to reduce
the risk of damaging the hardware during use in difficult
In the final part of the tests we shall
choose the educational content that can be successfully
delivered to the students.
Voice over IP and Instant Messaging will also
be enabled in order to provide a fast system for localization
and contact with the students while they are working in
Start of routine activity in teaching with
IPAQ and Tablet PC
The routine activity means using the system
for daily teaching. It will start at the beginning of an
academic year and therefore will be included in the standard
public report will be published on the project website and a
request for comment will be launched.
Revision of the methodology and new routine
general feedback and the evaluation by the board of teachers of
SAFI school, a thorough revision of the methodology will be
accomplished in order to allow a complete implementation of the
system in the curriculum.
The final report will be published on the web
and will contain all the experience gathered during the project.
MOWECS will produce a detailed report on the
teaching activity using mobile devices in a complex environment.
Suggestions about handling and care of the devices, experiences
on interface for reading teaching material, performance
evaluation and interference troubleshooting will be recorded.
The students will gain a thorough knowledge
of how to access information on mobile wireless devices.
All the results and the on-going process will
be published on the website