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"PDAs in the classroom lack versatility", do you agree?

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Author Topic: "PDAs in the classroom lack versatility", do you agree?  (Read 10621 times)
Jocelyn
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« on: February 25, 2006, 05:36:08 PM »

In a recent funding round teacher training institutions could apply to the Teacher Development Agency for funds to purchase laptops and tablet PCs but not PDAs (even "if they are able to run Pocket PC or its equivalent"). The argument was they "do not have sufficient versatility for classroom use compared to a PC/MAc based notebook".  Huh Is this true? What do you guys think?
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davew
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2006, 01:59:28 PM »

Hi Jocelyn,

Well... this seems to have missed the point about Handhelds doesn't it? Embarrassed

As you know.. In Wolverhampton... we are delivering multimedia content and surfing the "Net" on our handhelds using the 640x480 resolution on our VGA screened devices... Also via some of the "Voucher" software from Fujitsu Siemens we are able to use and create documents in "Full" Word and "Full" excel.... and then there is the on-board stills and video camera....

.......We are using this in classrooms for recording children's key learning moments and we think that the instant on function of the Mobile OS is key to embedding ICT into the teaching and Learning process.....

So All in all.... I feel that the TDA have missed a trick and are behind the pace.....

Regards

Dave Whyley
Headteacher - E -learning consultant Wolverhampton Smiley
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jonnydavey
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2006, 07:47:56 PM »

I agree, I've now been testing GPRS phones as a teaching tool for 6 months.  I've done two trials, both very successful.

Trial One was with a group of London Year 9s.  They went out on a field trip guided by the on line content we had created to guide them.  The students used the devices also to record information as they went.

Trial Two has just finished, a group of AS Sociology students had booster materials delivered to mobile learning devices on loan from Islington CLC.  The materials had test elements which were recorded for evaluation. 

In my opinion mobile learning devices are extremely important tools. 

Jonny Davey

www.oneclc.com
« Last Edit: February 26, 2006, 07:55:25 PM by jonnydavey » Logged
rgvickery
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2006, 09:41:32 PM »

In many ways our teacher trainees would say that they are too versatile if that does not sound perverse.  I get comments like "PDAs can do a wide variety of things but not very well" which I don't agree with but I think some people find there are so many facilities that they don't know where to start.  Personally I use my XDA as a planner and for checking e-mail and I am now going to use it as my mobile phone.  The TDA see to be going down a blind alley suggesting tablets for tutors in my opinion.
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jont
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2006, 03:32:23 PM »

Well you folk in schools seem to be making great headway... but is using mobile devices for learning  a lost cause in FE and HE?....

(whatever happened to the projects thats JISC like to show videos of...........have they continued or been extended?)
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James Clay
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2006, 04:04:18 PM »

Well you folk in schools seem to be making great headway... but is using mobile devices for learning  a lost cause in FE and HE?....


No

I am presenting at the JISC Innovation e-Learning Conference at the end of this month on the WCC plans for mobile learning.

http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=elp_conference06_programme

James Clay
WCC Director
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jont
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2006, 12:28:35 PM »

Ok :-)

Perhaps I was too negative, are PDAs less useful in HE/FE than in schools?
or is it that the applications of the devices are very subject specific?

Our experiences so far are...

Our students do not seem interested in either carrying an extra device OR using their own devices for learning (Here I am talking devices such as phones/PDAs). ...
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Sim
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2006, 08:36:39 PM »

Hi,

I am a Year 4 teacher, and we recently took 90 8-9 year olds to the British Museum. As well as encouraging the children to look at Egyptian artefacts (not just the secret doors in the library) I ended up chatting to one boy about gadgets. He said he would love to bring his mobile to take pictures and videos of the trip. I asked why he hadn't:
 "because we're not allowed Miss Sim" (with a suitably patronising expression)
 Grin  wishful thinking!

So just thought I'd add some evidence that, at a younger age, children would be motivated by using hand held devices. Mobiles still seem grown up to 8 year olds, whereas maybe by key stage 3 or older the novelty could have worn off for some pupils?

The reason we were talking about taking photos was the trip organiser did not want to take digital cameras off site, in case they got damaged (I took my own). Allowing pupils to use their own devices could side step this issue.

Just some thoughts,

Grace
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Grace
geoff stead
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2006, 09:59:40 AM »

Hi all

I definitely do not agree that m-learning isn't happening in FE. (said with usual passion and enthusiasm!  Cheesy)

In our office, we have been pretty much full time busy supporting many different FE-based trials, where individual tutors have taken the bull by the horns, and are using different aspects of mobile learning with their learners.

It is probably true that the credit for this inspiration is far more firmly with the individual tutors than it is with the organisations as a whole, and that those tutors have a challenge trying to squeeze money from the colleges, but none the less there does seem to be a significant amount of activity.

As a barometer, we have lent out (or bought) over 700 PocketPC devices over the last 18 months, and almost all of those were for FE based trials or projects! (a few were more in the WBL or ACL spheres, which are fairly close in target groups)

LearnDirect Scotland has also just completed a trial with us over 10 different centers, and are looking to roll "m-" out further.

Most are using GPS / communication / messaging / connectivity features as well the devices themselves.

and the jisc conference James mentions? Both Lilian Soon and Myself are speaking at it too ... so that is 3 different m-learning voices in one conference!

so - from my perspective, mobile FE seems alive and well!


Geoff

(btw: I have seen a preview of James' presentation, and thoroughly recommend it!)
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thornuk
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« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2006, 12:50:51 PM »

As will be witnessed by the wide range of mobile device applications used in schools (and discussed on many of this forum's pages) the "lack of versatility" is clearly not a function of the PDAs.  There have been myriad examples cited.  The initial comment could only have been made by someone who had NOT attended last October's HHL conference at Goldsmiths !

The lack of versatility is most likely to be found in the imagination of the people who have the opportunity to utilise the technology - the teachers (et al ?).  This lack is likely to be founded (or dumbfounded ?) on the lack of time for each of them to sit quietly and engage in "blue-sky thinking".  The time constraints imposed by (an excess of ?) required documentation, for National Curriculum, for school management, and so the right boxes can be ticked for school inspections.

Most teaching colleagues I have known, over a number of decades, are imaginative and would embrace opportunities if they felt it was (a) likely to make learning more engaging, (b) likely to be easy to implement (without adding greatly to the planning process), (c) likely to have no more than a small logistical impact (eg: the maintenance & security of the devices), and (d) likely to gain the support of those with decision-making and financial power (who are conservative by nature - "the system can't be wrong ...it produced me").

To change the attitude of the person / group who suggested that PDAs lack versatility there needs to be a body of wide ranging examples of uses with clear learning advantage.  That, plus the significantly lower cost per unit (vs. desktop PCs) should lead to a change of attitude.

Just my twopenny worth !
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DaleE
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« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2006, 03:03:43 PM »

I can't help but laugh when I look at my Zire 72 and think of this "lack versatility" thread.  My laptop (and don't get me wrong, I love my laptop) can't take pictures, shoot video, or record sound on the fly. 

Laptops and handhelds both have their place in the classroom.  Laptops create better multimedia presentations (although the GoKnow software does a really good job at creating a multi-element multimedia presentation) while handhelds provide seamless real time integration into the daily curriculum.

For example
A child can be typing away in a word processing program on a handheld before a PC or Laptop has even finished booting up.  In some cases, a child can complete a mathquiz on a handheld before a PC even has a chance to load the program or find a quiz on a webpage.

Perhaps programs found on a PC are more fully featured,  but really, how many of those features are actually used by an 11 year old or by most people for that matter?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2006, 03:07:53 PM by DaleE » Logged
James Clay
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« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2006, 01:21:47 PM »

and the jisc conference James mentions? Both Lilian Soon and Myself are speaking at it too ... so that is 3 different m-learning voices in one conference!

Geoff's presentation at the same conference is really excellent, looked at it this morning, really interesting stuff going on with m-learning in FE.
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John Jackson
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2006, 03:09:38 PM »

No I do no agree!
please check my site

http://www.handheldclassics.com

on can carry an array of tools to foster learning.
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David Perry
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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2006, 10:26:54 AM »

If the TDA are talking about teachers' use of PDAs then I have, in part, to agree. I know I don't use my PDA for the sort of serious jobs I do nowadays that are my nearest equivalent to planning lessons and schemes of work. I need a big screen for that, partly because I think quite graphically, even when writing a page of text.

Teachers need to use applications that are subject-specific and not available, and in many cases not suitable for, handheld devices. Have you tried working your way through a multi-sheet Excel spreadsheet with a lot of data in it on a PDA. It's diabolical. Could a D&T teacher work on Pro/DESKTOP CAD on a PDA size screen? Of course not.

However, I wouldn't be without my PDA if it's only for the most basic PIM functions where it's critical to my work and life and I am absolutely convinced that there are a number of school-specific apps waiting to be developed to go alongside registration and photo records of achievement that will expand the utility of handhelds for teachers . Also, of course, working with Dave Whyley & Co in Wolverhampton I'm quite clear about the value of PDAs to children where they are eclipsing the value of lap/desktops if only in being constantly and instantly available. Then there's all the other learning-appropriate apps: dedicated (eg Espresso Learning Pathwyas), web-accessed (eg Grid Club) and generic (eg PWord, Sound Recorder or video).

But let's not confuse the teacher's role with the pupil's. At the present state of development I cannot imagine a teacher being able to work without regular access to a lap- or desktop. Though I know of a lot of London teachers who never carry their laptop between school and home. They travel on buses, bikes or the tube and find a combination of home machine, USB stick and school network terminal suits them better.

I'm sure some teachers would find a PDA fitting well into this scenario, better than the USB stick by far. But the moral of this story is 'horses for courses' - we need to differentiate between people's needs in everything and each should be able to find their own most suitable ICT solution. However, the idea that a teacher could manage without a lap- or desktop and do everything they need on a handheld seems silly to me.

But then I've always been a professional at winding people up ;-)

David Perry
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thornuk
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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2006, 12:19:04 PM »

Regarding teachers' uses of HandHeld Computers (HHCs) I only partly agree.  Certainly, constructing a whole course and lesson plan would be tedious on and HHC, but it is very useful to have the files available on HHC for reference and "on the go" modifications (for later synchronising with the desktop version).  A similar argument applies to (eg:) Pro/Desktop files (I speak as a DT teacher with current PDT experience).

As someone who abhors repetitious tasks, I have developed an Excel format for course and lesson planning, where anything is one entered ONCE, and copied, in different formats, to all relevant lesson plans, and to (what used to be) OHP format (but could now be IR beamed from HHC to data projector or i/a whiteboard) showing the Lesson Objectives, Starter tasks, Homework, and Main Actvities (which enables these to be on display instantly the class enters the room - no "back to the class" hurriedly writing it on the board).  Having this on HHC is useful (and impresses Ofsted inspectors ! ).

I believe we are only just dicovering the ways in which HHCs could ease the workload of the teacher, and the sooner "we" are adequately equipped the better.
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