From Zero to Handhelds

This session was about how to implement handhelds in schools that have never thought of them before. Lynn Lair & Rob DeLilli from Wheelerville Union Free School a rural school in Upstate New York. Their introduction to handhelds was through the Magellan Foundation’s NY Talks Program several years ago.

They started with this question: How can handhelds be used by teachers and students? Seeking and landing a $35,000 grant from a state Senator they then brought in an expert to create a shopping list and sought out open-minded teachers.

What Worked:

  • Getting every teacher a handheld (~25 teachers)
  • Offering training
  • Provide teachers to play (teachers used them over the summer)
  • Modeling practical uses for handhelds (Rob modeled appropriate uses as an administrator as well as used them to communicate with teachers about pre-observation notes)
  • “Advertising” to Students and Parents
  • Gradual deployment to students
  • School Board support
  • Patience, Low pressure, Encouragement, Technical support & Financial commitment

What Didn’t:

  • Software glitch – Mac OS9 conflicts – (Mobilemind-ed Note: Be careful and read the hardware, software and networking requirements before purchasing)
  • Having full-time IT staff
  • Not enough training

This a example of another motivated administrator that gets it and is acting to get things going. Exposing students and teachers to handheld technology is important and to share experiences using handhelds. Students want and need to be plugged-in so accessibility to technology for students is very important. Wheelerville schools have experienced the bumps and successes and analyzed what can be done better and are moving forward with additional deployment, more training, software updates as well as adding wireless connectivity. It will be interesting to see how this implementation project grows within the schools as well as in neighboring schools as well as how they will sustain the project in the future.

Creative, Cool & Crazy

Wendy (my better half) and I had the chance to meet Tony Vincent prior to his keynote address at MAHC 2006 and chat about some tools to use for her classroom. Tony’s keynote was about the creative, crazy and cool ways to use handheld computers in classrooms.

Creative uses:

  • Contacts – create a category in your contact list for ACRONYM’s or vocabulary. Simply put the word or acronym in the last name field and create a custom field titled definition or description.
  • Picture viewers – displaying photos of science experiments such as capturing photos of daily plant growth or weather related photos such as clouds
  • Handybase ($30 – Palm/PocketPC) – create a behavior log of student behaviors. This was handy because in just a few taps you can create a log of behavior instantly with an automatic time and date stamp. Handybase has a large catalog of databases. Tony has a .pdf document that describes how to create a custom made database.

Crazy uses:

  • Transparent Desktops photos – not much educational value other than using photo editing software
  • Stressed (Palm) – fun app for relieving stress of using handhelds, take the virtual hammer and smash the screen

Cool (FREE) Stuff:

  • MathAce (Palm)
  • Silly Sentences (Palm)
  • GoneMad (Palm)
  • Dropairs (Palm) – pair boards are available for download or you can create your own using an application for Windows
  • TicTac15 (Palm) – TicTacToe with an addition twist
  • e-reader (PocketPC)
  • Quizzler (PocketPC)
  • TCPMP – plays a variety of audio and video file formats including .mp3 and .mp4 formats standard for podcasts
  • 9Poll
  • StyleTap will emulate PalmOS software on WindowsMobile devices, beaming is possible, however syncing will not work properly.
  • Moon Phase
  • Storm Voice & FlashBoom
  • Illusion (Palm)
  • NumberTranslator (PocketPC)
  • Match Who Edit (Palm)
  • Decision Maker (PocketPC) a magic-8 ball type application

Tony is energetic and very approachable and what I like about him is that he is practical. The software he shares is free or if there is a cost involved the and The above applications are linked at Tony’s website along with more information. You can read Tony’s notes of the MAHC Conference at