Entries in palm (52)


New Video & Blog About Mobile Learning

21st Century Education VideoTwo of my favorite educators are Cathie Norris and Elliot Soloway (who have been evangelizing mobile learning for nearly a decade now). This dynamic duo are featured in a new video from the Mobile Learning Institute's video series A 21st Century Education. In the video Cathie and Elliot speak with teachers and students as they travel to some handheld-using schools. While en route, Cathie and Elliot talk about mobile learning. Here are some quotes from the artistic video:

"Mobile computers are the future. Laptops are very 90s. They're your daddy's computer. They're your parents' computers. They're not the kids' computers." - Elliot Soloway

"Just like a business person uses the computer 24/7--they use the computer for everything they do. That's the way we now conceptualize the way we use mobile computers." -Elliot Soloway

"It's going to be amazing to see how many of them [schools] go to cell phone computers rapidly because they're seeing that every child has one, every child knows how to use one, and that's why when we see districts like Keller saying, 'You know what? Rather then fight it, let's see if we can take advantage of it. Let's use the infrastructure that the tel co has. Rather than us spending our money building a wireless infrastructure, let's just use the tel co's structure.'" -Cathie Norris

"Mobile technologies are going to make a bigger change to our lives than the PC and Internet together. I mean, the PC changed everything. The Internet changed everything. But the mobile technologies is every bigger than that." - Elliot Soloway

Cathie and Elliot work tirelessly to deliver their message to anyone who will listen. I'm really pleased that together they have started a blog called Tech Disruptions. Here's how they describe their blog: "We will address topical issues that arise as technology continues in its inexorable way to engender changes in K12. Here is your opportunity to express opinions about the changes that technology has wrought."

I really enjoy the format of the blog--it's written as a transcript of a jovial conversation between Cathie and Elliot. So far Tech Disruptions has tackled topics like eBooks, mobile phone bans, and cloud computing.


12 Days of iPod touch/iPhone: Palm vs. iPod touch

Palm vs. iPod touchFor years I've touted the wonderfulness of Palm handhelds. My fifth graders and I had a blast earlier in the decade using Palms and the gobs of available freeware. But now, near the end of the decade, I've lost my excitement for Palms in education. Palm hasn't updated its line of PDAs in over three years and has discontinued its educational purchase program. I've always liked that the Palm OS was easy to use and student-friendly, but they just haven't kept up with the times and the Palm Corporation is obviously no longer interested in the education market.

My excitement has transferred from Palm to iPod touch. It's even easier to use than a Palm handheld, especially when it comes to loading it with audio and video. And Palm users will appreciate that syncing actually works every time. Like a Palm handheld, an iPod touch's battery tends to last through a whole school day.

Right now there are currently three times as many applications for Palm as there are for iPod touch and iPhone. That is changing quickly. The Palm OS has been around for over 10 years and PalmGear.com lists 32,000 software applications for Palms. In contrast, Apple only opened up iPod touch and iPhone to software developers in the last year and the iTunes App Store has now surpassed 10,000 applications. I'm guessing that by the end of 2009, there will be more software for iPod touch/iPhone than for Palm. Currently 24% of the iPod touch/iPhone apps are games. Nearly 8% are categorized in Education. About one-fourth of all iPod touch apps are free and about of third of them cost only 99 cents. To me it seems that iPod touch and iPhone applications are cheaper than their Palm counterparts.

Note: Apple's App Store is part of the iTunes Store and can be accessed through iTunes for Windows or Mac or directly on an iPod touch or iPhone. Most all iPod touch and iPhone apps work on either kind of device.

Browsing the web on a Palm is tolerable. But its browser is very outdated. The iPod touch's Safari browser is modern and like all those commercials, allows you to view full-sized web pages. But there are also websites designed just for the iPod touch screen called web apps.

Palm.com continues to list the 128MB Palm TX for $299--the same price it has had for over three years. The 8GB touch retails for $229. The iPod touch offers 64 times the memory for less money.

The iPod touch's big disadvantage over Palms is that there are no attachable keyboards for iPod touch or iPhone. If students are writing more than a few sentences, a real keyboard is necessary. I'm hoping a real keyboard will come out soon. If the iPod touch had an attachable or wireless keyboard option, the choice between Palm and iPod touch would be a no-brainer. If the device is being used for lots of writing, then I suggest looking into a netbook instead of a Palm handheld.

Gift BowAnother disadvantage for iPod touch: since Palm handhelds have been used in classrooms for so many years, you'll find tons of Palm resources, including lesson plans, online. Resources for iPod touch in education are scarce, but that is sure to change. (Have you checked out Learning in Hand's Do So Much with an iPod touch section?)

You can look forward to 11 more days of posts here at Learning in Hand devoted to the iPod touch and iPhone. We'll compare them to netbooks, check out some useful features, and showcase educational software from the App Store. On the 12th day, this blog's gift to you is a video where I'll show you my favorite tips and tricks.


New Palm Freeware

Palm AppsThere really hasn't been much new to report in the world of Palm handhelds. Palm has been focusing on smartphones and hasn't released a new PDA since 2005. While we aren't seeing new hardware, software continues to be developed for the Palm OS. I thought I'd share some of the newer Palm freeware applications:

  • AtroInfo - Plots the planets, sun, moon, and stars in the night sky. Note: Huge 15MB file. You'll want to install this on an SD card.
  • Bombel - Virtual bubble wrap for you to pop. Not that educational, I know, but a great stress reliever.
  • Dolch Sight Words - Simple program to quiz students over sight words. If a student says the word correctly, tap OK. If incorrect or slow, tap Again and the word will appear again later in the session.
  • InflationMaster - With all of the recent talk about inflation, this application is handy for comparing dollars in different years. It has been updated for 2008.
  • JazzyDraw - Advanced drawing program that lets you save your work to an SD card.
  • Jury - Silly application that lets you tap one of two buttons. One button plays applause sounds and the other is for boos. Teachers might like to use this when asking the class true and false questions.
  • Latin Endings Program - For all you Latin teachers out there--here's a database of declension and verb endings. (I took four years of Latin in high school and we had a song and/or dance for Latin words endings, but a reference like this would have been super handy.)
  • Outcast - Puzzle game where you tidy up the screen by moving pieces into a minimum number of groups.
  • Tangram - Solve tangram puzzles by moving the pieces to match the silhouette.
  • Word Maniac - Word game where you build words from the letters displayed on the screen.
  • World Population Clock - Display an estimate of the current global human population or select a date to see that date's population.
  • Want more about Palm freeware? Check out Chris Cuppett's book Handheld Applications for the Classroom and the sequel, More Handheld Applications for the Classroom. The books offer ideas and lessons for using Palm freeware. A CD-ROM is included so you don't even have to hunt for the software online.

Unfortunately websites for freeware suffer from link rot--that means that the hyperlinks may not work because the original page or file has been moved or deleted. If you find link rot, do a Google search for the exact name of the application. You may need to add extra keywords like Palm, download, or freeware.


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!


2008 Sketchy Animation Contest

Sketchy LogoIt time to start working on your submissions for GoKnow's Spring 2008 Students and Teacher Sketchy Contest. Sketchy is software for Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, and Nova 5000s that lets you draw directly on the screen. Drawing on multiple frames and playing them in order creates an animation. While teachers are responsible for sending in the submissions, students are encouraged to enter one Sketchy animation into one of these categories: Science, Math, Social Studies, Language Arts, or Other Curriculum. Teachers can enter and have their own category.

Even if you haven't purchased Sketchy, you can enter the contest using the 45-day free trial of the software. Sketchy is one of my favorite handheld applications ever and students absolutely love it. Be sure students examine the Past Contests Archives for examples and inspiration.

Submissions are due April 22, 2008. Good luck!

Sketchy Examples


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.



Our City Podcast: Before Preproduction

Student Listening to PodcastI am working with two schools in USVI that have Palm handhelds for student use. Seventh graders at Moravian School are working on a St. Thomas episode of Our City Podcast. Our City is a great way to introduce podcasting. There are plenty of example episodes, the host/segment format is effective, and creation resources are available.

Before beginning preproduction on their St. Thomas episode, students are listening to existing episodes. We started with Outstanding Omaha. Not only could the seventh graders learn about the place I call home, but they could follow along and refer back to the script in eReader on their handhelds (a printable PDF format is also available). The class discussed what they learned about Omaha and what they noticed about the episode's sound, organization, and content.

Students are now in the process of listening to two of the nearly 30 episodes on their handhelds. I have 25 Multimedia Cards (cheap versions of SD cards) to which I copied random episodes of Our City Podcast. Each card is only 32MB so I could only fit three episodes per card. Nowadays you can get 1GB SD cards for pretty cheap, and 1GB can store all episodes with lots of memory to spare. I required students to choose two of the three episodes on their cards to listen to.

RealPlayer for Palm (free) is loaded on each handheld. RealPlayer can play MP3 files in the background while students work in other programs. I had students listen for certain information and type responses into a word processing document on their handhelds. I gave them a choice of answering two of these questions:

  • List two things that the two cities have in common.
  • List three things that are very different about the cities.
  • Decide which city you would rather visit. Explain why.
  • Decide which city you would like to live in. Tell why.
  • Which podcaster would make a good friend for you? Tell why.

I bought 97¢ earbuds from WalMart for students to use with their handhelds. Headphones are necessary when students are listening to 30 different recordings at once. You can't beat the under $1 price tag.


The handhelds also have Plucker (free). Plucker enables you to put websites on handheld devices. I made a simple HTML document that links to the Wikipedia entries for each Our City episode. I used Plucker on my desktop to turn that into a file that can be read using Plucker (or FlingIt) on the handhelds. I do wish the school's handhelds had Wi-Fi. I could then just have students points their browsers to Wikipedia (or mobile-friendly versions like Wapedia.mobi). So, another part of the assignment for students was to find a fact about a city that was left out of that city's episode. Students also looked for any differently-reported facts between the podcast and Wikipedia. If there is a difference, it's an opportunity to explore which source is correct.

Although the students had responses to prepare as they listened, their main purpose for listening was to help them produce the very best episode possible. Analyzing other episodes is a great way to know what to do (and what now to do) in their own episode. The seventh graders are confident that they can do a great job. They are excited to educate their listeners about their island paradise. Subscribe to Our City Podcast so that you receive the St. Thomas episode when it debuts next month.


Professional Development: Teachers & Students Learn Together

Palm TXAs you know, I'm in the business of helping students learn. Most times that means training teachers in workshops. While I think workshops are valuable and necessary, I'd like to tell you about how nearly a dozen teachers in Fort Smith, Arkansas learned about integrating handhelds into their classrooms.

Tilles Elementary School was the lucky recipient of a grant to purchase Palm TX handhelds for each of their fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. I had worked with students and teachers in Fort Smith's school district before and they were kind enough to invite me back. George Lieux, Fort Smith Public Schools' Technology Academy Specialist and I worked on a plan to train teachers and students. Instead of teachers getting a subs and spending a day in a room with me, we did something different. Teachers and students learned at the same time! The first day involved other handheld-using instructors and seven 35-minute rotation sessions. Each class rotated to each instructor with their teacher to learn about care, operation, software, and rationale for their brand new Palm TX handhelds. My rotation period was all about MathAce. Others were about using keyboards, Graffiti, Memos, and beaming. All of this was preceded by an opening assembly I gave to all students to psyche them up about handheld computing (as if they needed to be any more excited).

George developed a schedule with 7 rotation sessions to orient teachers and students to the Palm TX.

The second and third days in the school expanded upon the first day's orientation with real curriculum-based activities. I did 45 minute lessons for math and language arts in each of the grades (10 different lessons in all). Teachers had subs and were able to join all of the classes I conducted. So, instead of me talking, demonstrating, or simulating lessons with teachers in a workshop, they saw it in action with Tilles' students. During their hour-long debriefing, teachers said they really liked this approach. Not only did they learn the technology, they saw it clearly integrated and they picked up essential classroom management techniques. Moreover, it was fulfilling for me. My strength is teaching kids and I enjoyed every second of it.

I did short write-ups of the ten lessons I conducted at Tilles. Additionally, you can read about the project in the short article Education Students Assist in Tilles Schools Project published in the UA Fort Smith News.

Currently I'm in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands working with two schools to integrate handheld computers. I'm taking the same approach as in Fort Smith: teaching students directly. It's great because I get to coach teachers, empower students, and continue to put into practice all that stuff I say about education and technology. And, it's so much fun!


Meet the Mobile Web

Mobile DevicesBelieve it or not, more people have access to mobile devices than desktop computers. Many handhelds can access the Internet, including cell phones, Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, Nintendo DS's, and Sony PSPs.

The problem is most websites are not convenient to use on a handheld's small screen. So, many sites provide a mobile version of their content. For example, USA Today provides their current news stories in a simplified format at m.usatoday.com.

USA Today.com and Mobile

In 2006, mobile websites got their own top-level domain name: .mobi. When visiting sites like google.mobi on a mobile device, you know you're receiving content formatted for a handheld. Over half a million sites have been registered as .mobi and many more are on the way. Unfortunately, there remains a variety of ways that a website may format its mobile web address, making it difficult to locate a mobile site (if there is one). Once you find a useful mobile site, be sure to bookmark it!

I've added a section to Learning in Hand to help educators use the Mobile Web. I provide plenty of sample sites and tips for classroom use. Educators might be interested in making their own mobile site, so I've included a page with information about ways to create your own mobile homepage. Many web publishers are creating mobile versions of their sites because more and more people are accessing with web with a handheld.


PoducateMe Podcasting Guide

PoducateMeMicah Ovadia from Ohio has spent more than a year working on his PoducateMe Podcasting Guide. His time was well spent, as the guide is gushing with 186+ pages of information for podcasting in education. One look at the comprehensive Table of Contents and you can see why it took a year to create.

I'm always on the look out for how people define podcasting. Here's PoducateMe's definition:

A podcast is simply a collection of individual audio episodes typically recorded and edited on a computer, encoded in the MP3 file format, then uploaded to a Web server. Users of "podcatcher" software, such as Apple's iTunes, are then able to download episodes from the server to their computer and listen to the recordings on their computers or transfer them to a media player such as an iPod. Because episodes may be listened to at any time and anywhere, a popular analogy is to think of podcasts as TiVo for radio.
I noticed that video is not addressed in the definition. PoducateMe's guide includes some references to enhanced podcasts but none for video podcasts. After reading through more of the guide, you'll understand that audio podcasting can be complicated, simply because of all of the options in hardware, software, and publishing. PoducateMe often suggests alternative solutions to what I generally recommend.

I'll share one new thing I learned from browsing through PoducateMe. I've mentioned SyncTunes before, but it's worth revisiting after reading through Micah's guide. SyncTunes is free software for Macintosh that allows you to automatically sync podcasts (and other audio files) from iTunes to devices other than iPods. What about Windows users? There's BadApple, a free plug-in for the Windows version of iTunes. It's not as slick as SyncTunes, but BadApple allows Windows users to sync iTunes content to any device that mounts as a USB storage device, like Pocket PCs and memory cards.

Another way to automatically sync podcasts to non-iPod players is to skip the use of iTunes all together. myPodder is an alternative "podcatcher" that works with the online Podcast Ready service to automatically deliver podcasts to your desktop computer and portable device. There's even a version of myPodder that runs on Windows Mobile. That means your internet-enabled Pocket PC can subscribe to and receive podcasts without ever syncing to a desktop computer!

There are plenty of other useful bits of podcasting goodness in the guide. While the entire PoducateMe Podcasting Guide can be read online free of charge, it is available as a fully printable 29 MB PDF file for an educational price of $17.95. (The online version cannot be printed and the text cannot be copied.)


2007 Sketchy Animation Contest Winners

The winners of the 2007 Sketchy Animation Contest have been announced! GoKnow says they had over 400 amazing entries. They have posted winners from six categories: Social Studies, Science, Math, Language Arts, Other, and Teacher.

Winning animations include Sound Waves, Ecology Cycle, Nouns, Essay Parts, and Bullies and Me.

Sketchy Contest 2007


Edition 2 of Handhelds for Teachers & Administrators

Handhelds for Teachers BookThe second edition of Handhelds for Teachers & Administrators by Tony Vincent and Janet Caughlin is now available! You might be familiar with the first edition published four years ago. Edition 2 has been completely updated and has an added 50 pages. Besides taking you step-by-step through using Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, iPods, and podcasting, the book gives dozens of examples of classroom use. In fact, the vignettes with teacher lesson idea and their insights into handheld computing is my favorite chapter. There's also a chapter with school administrators telling you all about how they use handhelds to do their jobs better.

The podcasting section is an exciting new addition to the book. It takes you through finding, subscribing, and listening to podcasts in iTunes, on an iPod, a Palm handheld, and Pocket PCs. It even has a tutorial for creating and publishing a podcast using the free Audacity software.

As with all of Janet's Workshop Books, busy educators can pick up Handhelds for Teachers & Administrators and get started right away using their handheld computers. The book's CD-ROM provides useful resources for the tutorials, lesson ideas, and podcasting. There also is this website that has all of the web links mentioned in the book.

Currently Edition 2 is not yet listed on the Tom Snyder website. Call the publisher at 800-342-0236 to order the book. You also order from K12 Handhelds here.

As a shameless promotion for the book, I made a Gizmoz animation of myself telling you about it. You can make your own Gizmoz for free by uploading a photo of yourself and then supplying text or audio.