Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Commentary: Sotir: Cool Tools

It's a bird, it's a plane...well, no, but it is cool. I wouldn't preclude the ability to fly in some later version... but while it won't fly just yet, it IS a Palm Treo PDA 700w smartphone...which starts at about $400. What makes this so cool? It runs Microsoft Windows Mobile Operating System (Windows XP), so you can download directly from your PC. It's a smartphone, which means that you can have a portable media player (like MP3), handheld computer (which can run Word and Excel and even PowerPoint) and it's a cell phone. How cool is that? Software developers are writing education oriented software specifically for these PDAs. You can keep grades and attendance on these. Student portfolios? No problem. Of course they are also a great PDA for use as a calendar, reminder, and all the other neat things that can be done on a wireless phone, including hooking up to the Internet. It can store files of just about any type. This is a techie's dream toy.

So what other kinds of tech toys can see their way into the classrooms? Well, consider iPods and MP3 devices. These little babies have taken the world by storm. So sure, you love them for playing your fav tunes, but in the classroom?? But of course. In addition to playing tunes, these little media players are small, relatively inexpensive (and dropping in price as we speak) and have a lot of memory in a compact space. On some, students can record video and audio (great for portfolios) and then download it to a computer, or play it as is. They can play electronic books. You can even use it to back up a hard drive, if you don't have a key drive handy. The bottom line is that the newest generation of computers don't much resemble their predecessors, and can truly revolutionize how computers can be used in a classroom.