[Technology 937] Re: handhelds

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Marilyn Williams williams_ma at 4j.lane.edu
Wed Apr 18 10:27:48 EDT 2007

Hi Mariann,
Thanks for your questions and comments. I've used the AlphaSmarts in the past as well. I think
one of the advantages to the Palm is that is doesn't look so 'weird'. Middle school students, and
I would think high school and adults, don't want to look different from everyone else unless the
difference makes them 'cool'. PDAs are pretty common and students don't seem to feel that they
stand out in a negative way by using them. The screen size on a Palm takes a bit of getting used
to but it doesn't seem to be that big of a deal. My sixth graders (this year) now judge how long
their work is by the number of 'K' it takes. They've figured out that about a half page printed is
going to be about 8K of memory. Using Inspiration was another story and we quickly learned to
use the 'hide' feature. This allows you to compress a topic with all its subtopics and details so
the screen isn't overwhelmingly full and you can more easily navigate through your work.

I have had a few instances of students beaming when they shouldn't be and using the Palms to
doodle when they should be paying attention. Usually, a warning and then confiscation for the
day is enough to curb the inappropriate behavior. The only games on my class set of Palms are
'educational' ones which are fun in a pinch but all that appealing to most students.

I'd encourage folks to give these a try if they're looking for something a little less expensive,
more durable and easily portable than a laptop. Adults, especially, would probably benefit from
the calendar and tasks features which are great to keep yourself organized. The calendar has a
number of settings you can use to remind yourself of events, as well.

Thanks for your questions,

Marilyn Williams
6th Grade Language Arts/Social Studies
Kennedy Middle School
Eugene, OR

----- Original Message -----
From: Marian Thacher <mthacher at otan.us>
Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 6:21 pm
Subject: [Technology 934] Re: handhelds
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List <technology at nifl.gov>

> The Technology and Literacy Discussion List <technology at nifl.gov> on

> Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at 2:53 PM -0800 wrote:

> >One of the biggest issues I'd thought we'd have was with the size of

> the

> >screens, especially for

> >using the Inspiration program as it's very visual (flow charts etc.).

> The

> >students don't seem to

> >be bothered by this, however. I think they're more used to cell phone

> >screens and Game Boys

> >etc. than I am. I do find that students think that one screen of writing

> >equals a page! So, I often

> >have to give them a guideline of, "This should be at least 5 screens

> >long" or something like that.

> >After a while they understand that the screen usually holds about 2

> >sentences and they adjust. If

> >you wanted to run spreadsheets, I think the screen size could become

> an

> >issue.


> thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Marilyn! I've been watching

> for use of handhelds in adult education for several years, and haven't

> seen much. I've pretty much dropped this piece of technology from the

> list

> of things I encourage people to try, and I think the main issue is the

> screen size. If we're going to use something cheaper than a laptop, people

> seem to be going for the portable keyboard, and focusing on writing.

> AlphaSmart has the Dana, which is a palm with a bigger case, keyboard

> and

> screen. I wonder if any adult programs have tried using those.


> I didn't think about the problem of the stylus, but I can imagine now

> that

> you mention it! Have you had any problems with kids

> losing/trading/forgetting their handhelds?


> Thanks,

> Marian Thacher


> www.otan.us


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