The iCount tool is simple in the extreme. Once the data has been captured the saved file is in the form of a .CVS file. When students download the file to their PCs and click on it, it opens automatically in Excel. The issues of transferring data from paper to electronic form for analysis disappear. Students are better able to focus on the key requirements of analysis, graphing and interpretation of the data. In discussions with students this particular tool was valued because of its:
- ease-of-use; and
- ability to create a file ready for analysis using Excel.
Creating a file that the iCount tool uses as its source file is relatively simple also. The source file is an XML file. One of the students modified the original demonstration file in order to count different types of signage -- one of the prescribed tasks. This was about five minutes after being shown how the source files could be created. The text from a typical source file is shown below.
The XML file is of the form:
The iCount tool would seem to be one of the success stories of data collection and analysis on this particular field trip using a PDA. I have received inquires expressing considerable interest from others who have heard of the tool and want to use it in a similar way with their students. If you would like to use the tool, you are free to download it from my personal web site (http://people.cite.hku.hk/dkennedy/DMK/dmk7.html). I am interested in working with people to develop the tool futher and make it even more useful and user-friendly. Please send me an e-mail if you are interested in collaborating.