Archive for the ‘Handhelds’ Category


I’m not going to resist writing about this device, but I will riPhone from Appleeserve my kudos of Apple’s iPhone for a later time. As many of us that have been around mobile devices know, and as was discussed by Karen Fasimpaur and Tony Vincent at the Mid-Atlantic Handheld Conference last summer, the convergence of devices typically diminishes some of the best features of a device. Only time will tell. These are my initial thoughts on the iPhone after watching the keynote presentation.

I am curious about the iPhone because of what I feel is a strong point for Apple, they control the software and the hardware for their products. I must admit that a mobile device running OS X is definitely worth a looksee. The new technology involved with this device is definitely intriquing with sensors that respond to basic uses such as the accelerometer (is this the same accelerometer in the Nike+iPod?), proximity detector and ambient light sensors. These are great innovations for mobile devices, but hardly a selling point for education. My cellphone has been difficult to get audio files (read podcasts) loaded. Hence the reason I still carry three devices, hey, call me Batman. I do like my iPod and have been playing a bit with a pretty cool tool shared by Will Richardson called MogoPop, which has, dare I say it, potential for learning via iPods. I didn’t come across anything about the iPhone being able to handle documents, spreadsheets and other files through the multi-touch screen. Of course, I assume it can still be used as a drive to carry all sorts of files. The 4GB to 8GB is to be expected for such a device, but hardly compares to the 30-80GB iPods some students in the schools in our area carry to class to transfer audio/video projects.

Chew on this:

  1. The fine print located at the bottom of the iPhone page: “This device has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.
  2. Developers are not welcome. What is great about the Windows Mobile OS and Palm OS is that it allows for third party developers for applications, which is very important for educators using mobile devices.

Whatdya think?


3 Strikes for DELL?

I am most disappointed.  I haven’t had my new Dell AXIM x51v for 2 weeks yet and it’s out of commission.  Yesterday, in it’s case, it was accidentally knocked from the table (~24 inches high) and the screen cracked.  This is the third, count them, first, second, THIRD AXIM that has a cracked screen for me.  (I’ll share a photo soon) I understand the first, a AXIM x3i, it was my daughter’s playing that damaged the used device.  Whiff!  The second one, an AXIM x30, was and still is a mystery.  I had used it, placed it in my computer bag, and went to the office.  When I arrived, I pulled it out and found a crack in the lower left section of the screen.  Whiff!  This third Dell, a AXIM x51v, was functioning okay and I was just getting it to where I wanted it (apps and settings installed, etc.).  I had taken a note, put it in the cheesy slip cover that Dell provides and a minute later it fell the 2 feet to the floor.  I couldn’t believe it!  Worse yet, there is a district that is looking to purchase this very model anyday now, for student use!  I’m thinking this is going to be a big problem.  These things are handhelds, we all fumble from time to time, why are the AXIM’s so fragile?

On a related note, I still have my Palm Tungsten T2 that is now my old reliable.  I wasn’t wild about it at first, but it has served me well between AXIM’s.  Why have I missed this reliability?  Oh, and if you are thinking whether my T2 has taken it’s lickin’, the answer is yes.

Supporting K-12 Learning Using Handhelds

Karen Fasimpaur joined the MAHC early and filled in for a late presenter cancellation. Palm and PocketPC users converged to learn how using handheld computers can improve instruction and learning for K-12 students.

Karen suggested that teachers and technology leaders consider the outcomes of using handheld computers prior to committing to a purchase. Keep an eye on Linux-based handhelds in the future. Interestingly, she mentioned that there was a buzz about NECC this year about devices called “student appliances”. I haven’t heard this yet, but it was decided that the term was referring to portable devices like the Nova5000 or the Ultra Mobile PC.

So why handhelds for K-12 learning?

One teachers said to me:
We don’t really use or textbooks except to flip through the pictures, because the content is not appropriate for our kids.

One Answer – Curriculum.

I think Karen spoke an interesting quote when she said “the technology needs to be the curriculum”. She elaborated by saying that if it’s one more thing that teachers need to learn, it won’t happen. Also, a sustainable handheld implementation is not about giving students a chance to “play” with the handhelds on a Friday afternoon.

An Approach that Works

  1. Identify a grade level and curriculum area.
  2. Start with existing content objectives or standards
  3. Look at what objectives are most critical and of which handheld tools lend themselves
  4. Develop, adapt, or license materials based on current curriculum. Build your own if necessary.

The Core Tools

  • e-books – teachers love books, Plucker
  • Web clipping – secure, guided web browsing
  • Audio & Video – powerful tool for differentiating instruction
  • Graphic Organizers – mapping the individual student’s mind, Inspiration
  • Writing – increasing writing opportunities
  • Worksheets – paperless classrooms
  • Quizzes & Tests – can’t escape these!

10 Critical Items for Success

  • Curriculum focus
  • Solid curriculum-based software and/or materials
  • Differentiation strategies (multi-leveled resources, vocabulary support, multimedia, “just in time” individualization)
  • A One-to-One model (there are various ways to implement a 1-to-1 model without breaking budgets)
  • Management tools – file management – how do you get files out to students and back again? SDExpress SD card that installs handheld applications from one SD card.
  • Students being allowed to take handhelds home – important to have parents in on the program, “students guard them with their lives… benefit is so much bigger… just take the leap and do it”

Sidenote: Warming up to the use of cellphones or convergent devices for educational purposes (I have been thinking about posting about this soon… stay tuned.)

  • On-going professional development and collaboration
  • Have an LCD projector
  • Administrative support – there is money there somewhere, administrators are using them
  • Teachers who want to do it

Mid-Atlantic Handheld Conference

MAHC @ Salisbury UniversityWell, in a few hours I will be going to Salisbury University to my first ever handheld conference. Gosh! It took me long enough. I will be listening and networking tomorrow and get a feel of where I am in the world of handhelds in education. I always enjoy conferences because they either give me affirmation that I am doing somethings right or they provide me with information and ideas to use and more knowledgable. I have a feeling I will have a mix of the former and the latter during this conference.

On day two of this conference, I will be presenting on the use of AudioBay software to download, listen and create podcasts with ease. I received word that the kind people at VoiceAtom have agreed to donate an AudioBay license as a door prize during my presentation! One sign that they are supportive of what we are trying to do with handhelds in education.

If you are attending the conference and you see me please approach me and say hello. I will have some “hard copy” business cards, but would prefer to beam contact information.

See you in the morning!

To iPod or Not to iPod?

I have regenerated this post as it is still a raging question in my mind as more and more schools are taking to iPods for various reasons. I regenerate this also to open the question to Mobilemind-ed readers as well as to my fellow educators who are considering iPods as THE solution. As this was a post from another blog… edTech Classroom it may seem dated.

Please comment with your thoughts. – Brian

To iPod or Not to iPod?

That is the question I had after attending a session on the uses of Apple's iPod in education at NYSCATE. Being someone who has experience with using handhelds I found this an interesting topic. Handhelds, as I have come to refer to them, are also known as personal digital assistants (PDA), Pocket PC's, or one of my pet peeves… Palm Pilots. They are, simply, computers that you can hold in your hand (hence, handheld computer). While I think iPods fit this description, I don't feel they are as useful as a handheld computer that runs on the Palm OS or Windows Mobile (a.k.a. – Pocket PC).

The iPod does have features and functions much like a PDA except the ability to input data through the iPod itself. I can use my PocketPC or Palm handheld to do all the things an iPod can do and more. In addition to keeping personal information (i.e.- calendar, contacts, to do, etc.) a handheld can record audio for podcasts, show video, read .pdf documents, create documents, spreadsheets & presentations, and most handhelds can take photos and video with the right accessories. Compare the differences:

Apple iPods vs. Handheld Computers

  iPod Handheld
DigitalMusic Yes Yes
Photos Yes Yes
Video Yes Yes
.pdf Yes Yes
Read/Write Yes/No Yes/Yes
Memory <60GB> <1-2GB>
Phone No Yes
Internet No Yes
Screen Size 2.5" >2.5"

When you compare the functions available on the iPod and on a handheld computer it seems that the handheld makes more sense for classrooms. So why this phenomenon? What is special about the iPod? When the iPod came out 4 years ago there were mp3 players with less than 128 MB of memory. Now Apple offers an iPod comes with 60 GB of memory that plays video. I believe it lies in the marketing. Apple was genius to "rope in" the millenial generation with a cool digital music player with a ton of memory. It seems that the only advantage an iPod has over a "traditional" handheld computer is that it has so much more memory. I don't believe that this kind of memory for a handheld is too far behind. It is cool, it is sleek, the millenials love it and will keep purchasing the next generation iPod. Given the attempt to combine iTunes and a phone [the ROKR] the next generation iPod may look more like a handheld. Only Steve Jobs will tell.

Traditional Handhelds?

A good article was posted on Brighthand a few weeks ago (yep, I'm a little slow to get to all 2500+ Bloglines feeds) about the Case for PDAs by Antoine Wright. Antoine wrote about the case for older, traditional (non-cellular, non-WiFi, non-Bluetooth) handhelds. I have been thinking a bit on this very subject for schools. I don't believe this "changing of the guard" from the "traditional" handheld (have they been around long enough for this term?) to "connected" handhelds applies to all sectors, namely education. Despite this belief, I applaud this movement. If the corporate world wants to discard these traditional handhelds, I have a suggestion… create a donation program to schools. There may very well be a program like this already in place and if you know of one, please let me know. But it just makes too much sense not to recycle the used or barely used handhelds into students hands. What a great marketing strategy. A company creates a program that recycles it's "old" handheld technology into the hands of students, the students and teachers then use them to learn and solve problems and whatever type of device that is being donated get's free advertising via use of future potential customers. Everybody wins. Especially the kids. Antoine actually mentions his former school and the different thought process that occurs (or should):

"it is amazing how in each visit that I am reminded of something: the technology they have picked up and use is much more about getting a problem solved, rather than showing off the latest thing."

Now that's what I'm talking about.