Portable VoWLAN: A portable voice over wireless local area network for mobile learning

Screen shots

Chris on Whitby foreshore testing voice and video; note headset and external camera, with field antennae in the background
JPERF graph from Scremerston
ERA kit on the beach at Scremerston
Base station at Saltwick test site.
Ekiga video call - fullscreen
Asterisk phone
Trevor testing a pair of Asterisk servers
Bluetooth on an Eee
Axis Q7401
Edimax MPEG-4 video in VLC
Edimax 3010wg
ERA2 SXR339 geology field trip
D-Link 3220g
Tutor and students at the ERA base location viewing the video feed and communicating via VoIP with the field geologist. Howick, Friday 07 August 2009
A portable wireless network used to improve access to geology field work locations


The Portable VoWLAN Toolkit is a battery-powered wireless local area network, optimised for voice and video data. Developed for use in university geology field courses, the toolkit provides a 802.11g WiFi network, a VoIP telephony server, and streaming video. During a field trip students and lecturers can use VoIP softphones to talk to one another, and any web standards compliant browser to view streaming video and collected photos. Although developed to improve student access to geology fieldwork, the resulting generic toolkit can be applied to support any mobile learning context where live communication is required.

In developing the Portable VoWLAN Toolkit three characteristics of the educational experience have helped to focus our activities:

  • Live communication: Supporting live communication is essential to delivering remote access to the field site.
  • Speed of deployment: The students visit multiple locations during the same day, so rapid deployment is essential.
  • Replicability: The Toolkit should be usable by students and lecturers, and a technician, or any other motivated enthusiast, should be able to build their own toolkit from commercially available off-the-shelf equipment and open-source software.

Related links

Project team

  • Trevor Collins (t.d.collins@open.ac.uk) – KMi, The Open University, UK
  • John Lea (san@spc.org) – Community networking consultant


Project blog posts