Starting to investigate handheld devices

One of my focuses at school this year is to investigate the possibility of introducing some form of handheld devices into our department for students to use in lessons. Having thrown some initial thoughts around in my head last year (I often have all sorts of ideas floating around, most of which don’t get further than a quick note in Evernote), I suggested that we should look into handheld devices and it has been included in our development plan for the year.

So I am starting to investigate what type of device would be best and ways that they could improve the learning of our students. We already have a class set of laptops in our department and some access to fixed IT suites. If we introduce handheld devices they will need to offer something different than the resources we already have.

I have personally owned and used several handhelds, Palm and Windows Mobile PDAs, Windows smartphones and the Android phone I am using to write this post, but I haven’t used any with students. I am trying to keep an open mind as to which devices might be best, if any will be worth getting at all. I am planning to look at various things including gaming machines like the Nintendo DS as well as the iPod Touch and more focused devices such as Response systems.

I am interested in hearing the thoughts of people who have used similar devices in the classroom and maybe visit some schools where they are in use.

I will relay my ongoing thoughts and progress on this blog and I have set up a public list on Diigo to keep track of things I read and useful stuff I find. I know there is a lot of stuff out there about this and I want to gather as much info as possible before we spend any serious money.

If you have any experience using handhelds in education, know anyone who has or can point me in the direction of anything worth knowing on the subject, please let me know your thoughts in the comments, throught the contact page or via Twitter (@timdolan)