Many new notebooks do not have a serial port any more: everything is USB. This can lead to problems (see USB or not: CDC with Processor Expert) as many embedded targets use normal RS-232. In my classes I’m using the Tower boards: some Tower boards have an on-board 2 pin RS-232 header, e.g. the Tower TWR-MCF52259. Others like the TWR-K60N512 use the added TWR-SER board. The Tower boards have as well a USB capable S08JM60 which is used for debugging (OSBDM/OSJTAG), so why not using the OSBDM microcontroller as Serial-to-USB gateway?