September 3, 2013

PDA is DOA: Stop using 'Personal Digital Assistant'

A new book about computers in healthcare came across my desk today and I noticed that it still referred to PDAs, or Personal Digital Assistants. This is an outdated term that was long ago replaced with other terms such as handheld computer, smartphone, or tablet. Even the literature databases prefer "Computers, Handheld" over PDA. This change took place over 5 years ago, yet PDA still won't go away.

The PDA device morphed into the smartphone and handheld computer (such as a tablet computer or iPod Touch). There are no more PDAs even being made. PDAs were developed in the 1990s for business people to store contact data. Palm and Microsoft developed operating systems that also allowed the addition of third-party applications. It was usually cumbersome to add these applications and there was no central place to buy them and have them automatically added to the device. With the invention of the iPhone in 2007 the days of the PDA became numbered. To buy apps now I just go to iTunes, find my apps, and hit Buy. They wirelessly download into all my iDevices.

So today I am begging my fellow nursing educators to forget about PDA as relic of the past. You would not refer to your car as a horseless carriage. Lets keep up with rest of the technology world and use Handheld Computer. Handheld computer covers smartphones, iPod Touch, and any size tablet computer we are now likely to be using the classroom or clinical.

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