Entries in handhelds (3)


Simulate Sites for Mobile Phones and iPods

Nowadays there seems to be three kinds of websites. There are the full websites that you are used to viewing on your desktop or laptop. Then there are mobile versions of sites for cell phones. Mobile sites are created with a minimum amount of graphics, don't require much bandwidth, and can be navigated with a keypad. Additionally, there are sites formatted for the Safari browser on iPhones and iPod touches. These sites are sometimes called web apps and are designed to be used by touching the screen with fingers. Below you can see that CBS News formats its site according to what kind of device you are using to view it.

2 Kinds of Sites

Phone EmulatorNot all sites are programmed to format themselves into these three types of sites. Chances are that the your website is static and does not change no matter what size of screen it is being viewed on. If you'd like to see what a site looks like on a cell phone, you can use the dotMobi Emulator. The emulator is useful for not only checking your own site, but for pages that you might want students to visit on a mobile device.

If you'd like to see what a site or web app looks like on an iPhone or iPod touch, you can use iPhone Tester. iPhone Tester gives you a preview of what the page will look like on a simulated iPhone.

If you'd like a make a site that will function well on a mobile phone, handheld, or iPhone, you should check out Wirenode. It's a free service that allows you to easily create a compact webpage or site that will format itself for the device that's used to access it. Here's a site I made with Wirenode for the 2008 NECC conference. As you can see, Wirenode support text, images, news feeds, and hyperlinks.

Why would you care what your site looks like on a mobile device? Research firm IDC says that 1.3 billion people will connect to the Internet using a mobile phone in 2008. According to the March 2008 Tween & Teen Lifestyle Report, 73% of teens and 26% of tweens own mobile phones. Besides mobile phones, youngsters also often have access to the Web on other portable platforms like Palm handhelds, Sony PSPs and Nintendo DSs. The bottom line is that the Internet isn't just for desktop computers anymore!


iPods Come to Alabama Elementary

iPodThird and fourth graders in Mrs. Adams' class at Albertville Elementary School in Alabama were teased with "The Surprise is Coming" on their classroom website. The surprise was a class set of iPods, a charging cart, and accessories! Diane Adams' gifted classroom is one of the first in her district to be outfitted with technology from $750,000 worth of funds that will be spent on technology over the next three years. I read about Diane Adams' class in the Sand Mountain Reporter.

One of the first things the iPods were used for was sharing enhanced podcasts. As I've commented before on newspaper articles like this one, it seems that the iPods are not necessary for the enriched learning taking place. However, if the iPods weren't there for students to consume each other's great productions, those projects may not have happened at all or may not have been as "cool" and exciting to do. There's extra motivation when students know what they create on a computer will end up on an iPod. But, those same products can certainly be consumed on a computer--teachers don't need thousands of dollars worth of iPods to have their students create podcasts, movies, and slide shows.

As you probably know, iPods can do much more than just play music and videos. Diane Adams' students are discovering just what iPods are capable of. As one Albertville's students explains:

"When we first heard about the iPods, I thought, 'why are we going to listen to music in class?' I never knew you could do stuff like this!"


Handheld Computers in the USVI

I've spent much of my time lately on the island of St. Thomas. The Palm handhelds we're using are a suitable educational tool for schools in the Virgin Islands because:

  • Many teachers are not tech savvy. Handhelds are easy to begin integrating into the curriculum. Having a simple device is a great way to hook them into using technology.
  • The schools I'm working with do not have a technician on staff. Handhelds are easy to troubleshoot. Teachers are capable of dealing with most problems with handhelds--little technical expertise is required.
  • School buildings are multilevel with no ramps or elevators. Getting a cart of technology from class to class is impossible because of the stairs. A class set of handhelds can be transported in a small tub.
  • School building do not have much storage space. Handheld can easily be stored in a filing cabinet.
  • The buildings are not air conditioned. Handhelds have no hard drive nor heat-sensitive components. The island's heat and humidity is not a issue for handheld computers.
  • Shipping broken laptops off to the mainland to be repaired can take many days and comes at a very high price. Handhelds are relatively cheap. Broken ones are just replaced with a substitute handheld.
  • School building have a very limited number of power outlets. Handhelds can charge quickly. It just takes 20 minutes to get a useable charge from a handheld.
  • The island encounters many electrical surges and outages. All electrical equipment is plugged into line conditioners, but electronics can still be affected. Handhelds and their chargers are inexpensive to replace.
  • Theft can be a problem. Handhelds are concealable and ultra portable, helping to detour theft when transported away from school.

Handheld Computing in St. Thomas is the website for the 2007-2008 project in the Virgin Islands. It details some of the activities and projects students have been doing this school year. There's also plenty of photos so you can see the handhelds in action. The site will of course be updated as the school year progresses.