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Handheld Learning Technologies

Keith Heggart High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi all,
In Australia, there's been a lot of interest in handheld learning technologies. I guess this a movement away from desktop or laptop machines, and instead to the cheaper and more common devices like blackberries and iPhones.

I've given them a shot in a school I've worked in. We used mobile phones and iPhones to take photos, upload those photos, comment on other photos and have a discussion with community groups. We also made use of Twitter for class and school announcements.

I was interested in these questions:
1. Have other educators out there tried to use handheld devices in their classes?
2. How effective have you found these devices?

Comments (7)

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Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia

This video is a few years

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This video is a few years old, but at one point this school district in the suburbs of Chicago bought Palm Pilots (remember those?) for all their high school students. The teachers had great success integrating them into the lessons, although eventually they moved on to other tech tools.

Still, I imagine that as the technology gets even more accessible, there are even more teachers bringing less expensive pocket-sized machines into the classroom.

I've seen them used very successfully in GPS-based lessons, as well.

High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Thanks Amy. That's definitely

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Thanks Amy. That's definitely an interesting video.

I guess I feel that we might be reaching a critical point in handheld learning technologies - the educational benefit is about to make the cost worthwhile; I've seen schools - again about 3 years ago - go down the palm pilot route, but it wasn't really successful. Not enough custom-made educational applications that we could use...

On the newer models, however, there seems to be a wealth of apps that could be applied to education - or are even designed with education specifically in mind.

Exciting times.

Humanities teacher in Boston, MA

sms server

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You know those egg things that you use with activeboards ~$100/ea. We could get at least that functionality if it was easy and cheap to set up a sms server. Almost all the kids have phones that can text. If I had a dedicated number or could somehow route my cellphone texts to a server, I could query my students in class and have them text me an answer that goes to a database ripe for instant item analysis.

Former Editorial Director of Edutopia; dad of 4 (3 kids in public school)

As you may know there is an

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As you may know there is an ambitious and groundbreaking program in England, called Home Access, to provide computer access, internet access and 2.0 tool access to growing numbers of lower income English families, for the expressed purpose of ensuring "the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning."

The agency leading the effort is Becta (formerly know as British Educational Communications and Technology Agency. Here is a link to some interesting research they have done on mobile devices in the learning process: http://research.becta.org.uk/index.php?section=rh&catcode=_re_rp_02_a&ri...

Click on the "overview" link and you will get a neat summary that shares some insights about mobile device in classrooms in Bristol and Wolverhampton. These projects have enabled all pupils in a year group and their teachers to each have a mobile device.

Hope this helps in answering your two questions.

High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Thanks David and Timothy for

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Thanks David and Timothy for your ideas. I will look into it, and hopefully get back to you to share my findings.

Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

Classroom response systems

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Hi Keith,

I'm not sure you're going down the route of Classroom Response Systems but I've seen many educators do wonders with them. Here's an article we wrote on the many classroom response systems out there: http://www.edutopia.org/assessment-classroom-response-systems.

I also know of many teachers that effectively use their student's cell phones or purchase iTouchs for classroom engagement.

Visual Arts teacher from Chenango Forks, NY

cell phones

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I teach HS Art and I use cell phones on a regular basis. I have found them to be an excellent educational resource.

Among other things, we utilize these tools for shooting quick reference photos for drawing projects (need to know how to draw a hand in a particular pose or know what your eye looks like exactly?) as well as for demonstrations (like demonstrating depth on a flat surface by showing changes in baseline and overlapping forms).
Its gotten to the point where its faster and easier to have a student shoot a quick photo and email it to my desktop to print or project than it is to use a digital camera and download it (we had a race one day).

I also do an activity in my Mosaics class where students are allowed to use cell phones for a "cell phone scavenger hunt" - they can call anyone they know, explain to them what a mosaic is, describe what it looks like, explain where they might find one, and then have that person try and take a photo and either send it to the students cell phone or email account. The people they call are also allowed to call someone else - setting off a chain reaction thats great - I had one student eventually get in touch with a soldier in Iraq who sent him a photo of a mosaic from a building where he was stationed.
In addition to the fun in looking for the art form in common and uncommon places they might never normally think to look for "art", its a great test of their ability to verbalize about art - to put their knowledge to use and have to explain knowledge they "take for granted" to someone who may know nothing about the art form.

You should check out (if you havent already) Mike Wesch on You Tube.

I also generally allow students to use phones and iPods etc. to record demonstrations I do for their use later.

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