SIG TC Forum

2:26 PM

[Warning: This is a session blog, so please forgive grammar and punctuation mistakes.]

I just finished my presentation for the SIGTC (Technology Coordinators) Forum on telling the new story. I think that it went well with a lot of participant in the audience — some very smart, knowledgeable, and well-read. One book that was suggested that I’m going to look into is Jennifer Government (I think that’s what it was). Anyway, I tried using a wiki in the session, but the room (counter to plans) was set up auditorium style, and we did not have wireless in the room. One of the IT guys did set up my laptop as a wireless base station, so a few people on the first few rows had wireless, but not enough to make the activity work. Please do visit the page. I have linked in an RSS feed to the web links ( related to the presentation. I love RSS.

My session was followed by a panel on handhelds. In my notes below, the text that is italicized are my comments, not those of the presenters:

Elliot Soloway is talking now about handhelds. His initial proclamation is the 1:1 works. In today’s information environment, students must have ready access to information. You can’t do it with one computer in the classroom and more than the class can share a single pencil. He says that a handheld can do 80% of what a desktop or laptop can do. Hmmm! May be.

Kathy Norris, a professor at North Texas University, says that if the computer doesn’t help the teacher do his or her job, then students will never touch the computer. She says that students are collaborating with handhelds in ways that they wouldn’t before, because the students couldn’t read each other’s writing.

Norris also says the teachers must be able to collaborate with each other. There should be at least two teachers in a single building who are implementing handhelds. They need to work together in order to learn and develop skills. This seems obvious, but I think that there is something else in this statement, something that is important, something that is just under the surface that I think we can take advantage of. I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to keep thinking about it.

OK, one of the presenters broached the subject, my objection to handhelds. The screens are too small. She says that this is an adult issue, not a child issue. This may well be. I can’t disagree.

One of the panelist quoted Elliot Soloway, saying:

That which will change education is that which can be put in the hand of a student.

How very true!

I’m sorry I don’t know their names, but the discussion has come to comparing handhelds to laptops. The college professor says that she talked with a school board member before leaving for NECC, and that he said that he didn’t know why they kept buying laptops for their students, because the students hate them. They don’t like lugging them around. I don’t know about that. I have to wonder if that school board member had a different agenda. I don’t know. That just doesn’t ring true for me.

There is another panelist who appears to be a vendor. He said that data indicates that handheld failure rates was 3%. For laptops, it was 27%. That is compelling for a school district without the tech support to handle this.

Someone asked about Negropante’s $100 laptop proposal. Soloway replied that this could happen, it can be done. But do kids in China want a laptop when they already have a mobile phone. Perhaps what we need to do is put more power into the phone. OK?

I think that what struck me about teachers working together is what it says about information. If there was a textbook, or if the users guide was enough, then they wouldn’t need the collaboration, the support of another local educator. The solutions to what, how, and why you use technologies in the classroom come from using them, and sharing the experience and growing knowledge.

14 thoughts on “SIG TC Forum”

  1. Interesting post. We went down the path of discussing these very issues… Handhelds are just too limited in my view for true education in a digiatal age. If you line up a palm and a ibook I am sure most students would get much more excited about the potential in the ibook simply due to the iLife suite and the many possibilities that come with that. My experience with palms for teachers and students is that they just become a glorified calender and alarm clock. I have had parents buy their kid a palm because the student was so disorganised….. well the irony was that instead of loosing their diary/day planner that cost them $4 to replace they lost a $500+ Palm!!

    Gen Y students move on…. Palms were “cool” a few years ago…. Now there is just not enough available on palms to keep students interested. I have had a palm (upgrded every year) to use at school. When I first started using one, my kids were like “Wow that is so cool” now the response is “oh yeah my Dad has one of those but he never uses it.”

    Thanks for the regular posts!!!! Next best thing to being there….. Check out my blog if you get a chance (ed tech blog)



  2. That is an interesting point that collaboration between students goes up as they are all better able to read each other’s work using handhelds. Before this this form of collaboration may have been limited to student with better oral skills, cutting out those who had strong written skills. Now is seems that both types of student can contribute.

    I’ve also heard the comments about small screen size being an adult thing.

  3. My opinion of handhelds in education are that they are fairly limited in what they can do. I’m interested in students obtaining information too, but I’m also interested in such things as blogs, wikis, RSS, and all the other associated tools that are emerging that are changing the face of information literacy, and how ideas are shared, remixed, and extented. It’s not enough to access information, students must be contributors as well, and I don’t see that handhelds, with their limited real estate and power, and limited ability to run the necessary software required to contribute to a learning community as the tool to get it done. If you want to word process, do some concept mapping, okay. But we still need to put a desktop/laptop/tablet in the hands of kids if we are truly serious about some significant processing and contribution. I think a better answer might be the new tablet that is emerging-this might be the answer. Please see:

    Have a cheesesteak for me…

    Stuck in Illinois, your’s truly,

  4. Great response Dave RE the Palm’s. I must say the tablet idea though seems to be a bit of a failure as well as it is a very expensive option that is not being utilised by our students. I am always interested in how people manage laptop programs. How do they stop kids abusing the equipment and turning them into a gaming machine or a tool to access the latest top 40 hits illegally?

    Sorry DW if I am changing the topic of this blog……



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