Posts Tagged ‘handhelds’

Differentiating Instruction with Mobile Technology

Monday, July 2nd, 2007


At NECC last week, I presented a session called “Using Mobile Technology to Differentiate and Enrich Instruction.” The ISTE folks had wanted to podcast the session, but I wasn’t crazy about the legal agreement they were using. (It wasn’t Creative Commons and gave pretty extensive rights to Apple.)

So….I created my own digital version of this session for folks to download:

Video version (streaming, for viewing in a browser; loads faster, but lower quality)

If anyone is interested in a higher resolution version to share with folks who weren’t able to attend, email me, and I’ll try to send you a CD.

For those who are interested, I audio recorded this with a very inexpensive Olympus WS-100 pocket recorder. I edited the audio in Audacity and brought it all into Windows Movie Maker for editing. The visuals included exported jpgs from my presentation slides and screen-capture videos made with Camstudio. I used HandShare to create the Palm movies (which is the same software I used to present). Creating the whole thing took about 4 hours.

It was a lot of fun making this and was a good way to reflect on my own style of presenting (and hopefully refine it for upcoming events).

I hope this is a useful resource for you all.

New Edition of Handheld Book

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007


There is a brand new 2nd Edition now available of the popular book Handhelds for Teachers and Administrators by Tony Vincent and Janet Caughlin.

This new edition has a lot of new information, including a section on podcasting, which includes tips for using Audacity and information on publishing your podcast. Even if you already have the old edition of this book, it’s worth getting this update. It also includes a new CD with more lessons, software, podcasts, and movies!

Video proliferation

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

I love the recent explosion of user-created video content that’s going on in the world. It’s creative, thought-provoking, and empowering. I’ve also written previously about the great potential of video to help differentiate instruction and enrich student learning.

However [rant coming]…the wide variety of video formats, codecs, etc. is driving me crazy! The more time I spend with video, the more time I spend with conversion tools and help pages about what device and software use what format and what codec, and the more time I spend mumbling about why this *%#%&*(# video won’t play right.

One tool I’ve found really useful for this though is Zamzar. This is a free online converter that works not only with video, but also with images, docs, and audio. One really useful thing this tool does very well is to convert videos from YouTube and TeacherTube, so that you can view them on a variety of devices such as iPods and handhelds. You just upload the video (or a link) and select the format you want. Then they email you a link for the converted file. (They do seem to have some DNS problems with their email system, but I’ve found it works well with gmail accounts, so if you have problems getting an email, try that.)

As with all web-based content, make sure to watch for copyright and attribution issues. And with all Web 2.0 services, you should read the Terms of Service.

And for those who are curious, the name is a take-off on Gregor Samsa, intended to connote transformation. :)

More thoughts on the Foleo….

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

After a few hours of reading more about the new Foleo and watching Palm’s video conference on it, here are a few more of my thoughts.

The Foleo can be used as a standalone device (i.e. without a smartphone). It has built-in WiFi, a USB port, a VGA port, an audio-out jack, and slots for SD and compact flash cards. (There is no hard drive.) I think Palm is purposely under-selling the Foleo’s potential as a low-end laptop, but in fact, that seems to be what it is.

The price is right. I was expecting more of a UMPC-type device, and at $1,500-2,000, these devices are way too expensive for what they are. However, at $500, the Foleo seems affordable. And you can bet the price will drop over time.

– A drawback of the Foleo is that it is one more device to carry around. How this works for you will probably depend on your personal preferences and how you use different devices now. Personally, for “real work,” a big screen is important to me, as is access to desktop applications. Currently, I use my phone as a wireless modem for my laptop. I have a very small notebook that I love. (For entertainment like music, reading, etc., I prefer mobile devices.) My laptop is 2.8 pounds and has a DVD player, a 40 GB hard drive, and a 1.6 GHz processor. It’s a “real computer” that can boot Windows or Linux, and it’s not a lot bigger than the Foleo. I do like the form factor of the Foleo, though I wish it had a tablet-style flip screen. I think for people who have been able to wean themselves from a laptop and are able to use their smartphone as their mobile computer, the Foleo is a great product. For people like me who still find a laptop indispensable, it’s probably not as relevant. (Maybe I’ll evolve though….:)

– I really like that Palm says they’ll support a variety of devices, including the iPhone. The whole idea of using Linux (although Palm has their own version, which could be a concern) should be to open the device up to developers. As they’ve done in the past, Palm is opening their device and encouraging lots of development. Apple has chosen not to make their devices accessible, and I think that’s a mistake.

– There is apparently no support for old Palm OS apps. (In fact, Palm is reaching out to developers to develop PIM apps.) While this is a little unfortunate, it probably makes sense.

– Is this device relevant to education? It’s hard to say. I’d guess not too much in its first release, but very possibly down the road. If the price comes down to under $300, the processor gets more robust, and some solid educational applications are developed — all of which seems likely — this could be a decent educational laptop. With all the new Web 2.0 apps (and the addition of offline syncing), this could be very powerful. In fact, it could be a step closer to the super-user-friendly, book-type form factor computing device we’ve dreamed of for schools. Of course, we’ll watch what happens with OLPC and the Classmate as well.

All in all, I think this is a good move for Palm.

Handhelds and administrators

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

The University of Southern Mississippi has been a pioneer in the field of using handhelds for administrative leadership. Each year they host a School Leadership Institute for building-level administrators. One part of that institute focuses on using handhelds as a tool for time management, classroom observation, student records management, and other tasks.

Drs. Ronald Styron and Kyna Shelley are now conducting a research study on handheld use by school administrators.

The purpose of the study is to evaluate school leaders’ opinions about and their use of personal digital assistants or handheld computers. There is some research to suggest that PDA’s are viewed as making the job of school leader a more efficient undertaking. Likewise, efficient and effective leadership has been associated with stronger school performance.

If you are a K-12 school administrator and use a handheld, they need your input for this research. The survey is online and should only take about 10 minutes to complete.

Thanks in advance for your valuable assistance.

The "paperless" classroom

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Remember when one of the arguments for technology in the classroom was that someday we’d have “paperless” classrooms? (When I was in business school, everyone was excited about the paperless office of the future.) That seems pretty silly now. First of all, technology seems to generate more paper, not less. More importantly though, there are so many great benefits to using technology — using less paper wouldn’t make the top 50.

That aside, this week I worked on a project that used technology to greatly reduce paper use in classrooms. The school already has Palm handhelds for their kids. They use them for brainstorming, research, writing, and assessment, among other things.

They also have a skills-oriented paper-based grammar and mechanics program that they really like, but using it requires making photocopies of hundreds of pages of materials for kids to do short practice exercises and assessments. So the teacher had an idea to put the paper handouts on the handhelds.

Being the tech integrator type that I am, I wanted to get fancier and so explored putting the activities into an assessment program so that they could be automatically scored, etc. In pursuing this, though, it turned out to be more work than it was worth. The activities would have had to been significantly reformatted and in some cases rewritten. In addition, most of the activities were only a few questions, so the benefits of “machine scoring” were trivial. So much for my great idea.

So we went back to just using the handhelds as a way to deliver the handouts. (Believe it or not, we made up paper bubble sheets for them to record their answers on. By consolidating this, we ended up with just 4 pages of paper for each kid vs. a few hundred and save the teacher a ton of time.) Not very technically elegant or innovative, but it worked.

Sometimes, the simple solutions are the best.

FREE poetry resources

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

As promised, we’re making available several poetry curriculum resources for mobile devices (or desktops or laptops) available. You can download them here.
Enjoy!

Been wondering what Palm’s up to?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

The rumor mill about Palm has been whirling wildly the last couple months. I haven’t posted on this, because most of it hasn’t seemed either relevant or likely to materialize.

Yesterday, CEO Ed Colligan announced a new Linux-based OS with product due out by the end of the year. It’s been widely known that this was in the works for the last couple years, so I’m not exactly sure this is “news.” However, Palm’s licensing of Windows Mobile (primarily to pacify enterprise users and cell phone carriers) and then licensing back the Palm OS from Access have muddied the picture.

I listened to Palm’s Analyst and Investor broadcast from April 10. Mostly it was a lot of (long, boring) smartphone market info targeted at investment analysts. I expected it to raise more questions than it answered, but there really wasn’t enough (any?) new info to even raise questions. You’d think from reading the press reports that there was more there. The entire discussion of the Linux-based OS was about 2 minutes (most of which was quoted in the press articles) of the entire 3+ hour presentation.

Not commented on in the above presentation were rumors about the forth-coming clamshell-type handheld/UMPC-type device (which Jeff Hawkins has already leaked). Stay tuned for more info on that.

For the education community, the best things Palm could do is keep producing great handhelds like the Tungsten E2 (schools don’t need an “innovation” every 6 months…we’ve appreciated the stability of the product line over the last year), continue supporting current apps on any new devices (there are hundreds of great educational programs for the Palm OS), and don’t forget the loyal base of educators who have bought and embraced their product over the years.

NCCE Palm workshop follow-up

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

I enjoyed the enthusiasm of everyone who attended my Palm workshop yesterday.

As promised, here is the Daylight Savings Time patch for Palms.

We covered a lot, but there were so many things we didn’t get to also. Here are some links for you to explore more:

Ebooks
Free ebooks – ManyBooks.net
Free ebooks – Memoware
Also, check your local library. Spokane Public Library and Seattle Public Library both offer ebooks for checkout and many others do as well.

AvantGo (This is the web clipping program I showed to download a variety of web-based resources and htings like the New York Times.)

Plucker (more web clipping – this is the one I use for recipes and Yahoo driving directions.)

Educational uses – K12 Handhelds
Educational uses – Learning in Hand

More software

….Oh yeah, and how could I forget — the very cool folding SD plus USB card!

I hope you enjoy your Palms! Keep in touch, and let me know if I can answer any questions.
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Technology empowers kids

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007


I have been working on a large project using handhelds and desktop computers to enhance student writing, and I am more and more convinced that one of the best uses of technology is in the area of writing. For many kids who have struggled with writing in the past, a keyboard can free them up to be successful writers.

Good software is a key as well. This picture is of a wall of Inspiration-generated concept maps. (Teachers will always have bulletin boards.:) Students used Inspiration to generate ideas for a persuasive essay. These concept maps were then converted to outlines that students used to organize their ideas and add details. I’ve seen kids really latch on to the idea of paragraph development using this method. The outlines were then transferred to Word, where kids wrote their persuasive essays.

This process emphasizes the steps of prewriting in a way that is more approachable for kids and makes the actual writing a lot easier. When tasked with writing a 500-700 word essay, kids groaned at the task. After using Inspiration to plan their writing, one little girl said to me “I’m gonna have WAY more than 500 words! Is that ok?” Now that’s the power of technology.:)
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