Information scientists at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University are testing the way mobile devices are impacting the young and the elderly and seeking to discover what benefits they may bring.

Prof. Judit Bar-Ilan and two academic colleagues have developed a two-part research project. The first examines how Apple mobile devices can help students in higher education, how their interactivity can be increased and how better learning can be achieved as a result.

The second part looks at usability and accessibility of the devices for people aged 60 and above, their levels of satisfaction and enjoyment, and how their lives might be changed and enhanced. “Our goal is to see how iPod touches can be integrated into education and into the learning process,” says Bar-Ilan.

The study is supported by the Apple Research & Technology Support (ARTS) Programme and Apple has equipped the team with 40 iPod touch devices, three iMac desktop computers to analyze results, and two MacBook Pro laptops for fieldwork and displaying output.

A class of 30 undergraduates has been chosen as the student test group, and both they and the group of seniors will use the same iPod touch devices.

The research team hopes the findings will provide insights into advantages of touch screen devices for the elderly population, and shed light on whether novel and attractive learning and teaching methods increase learners’ motivation.