Mid Atlantic Handheld Conference

The Mid-Atlantic Handheld Conference (MAHC for short) was a big success! I presented the morning keynote presentation to nearly 200 educators. There were 24 breakout sessions. You might have already read about my Tiny Spreadsheets session. I wasn't able to blog much of the conference since I was presenting myself, but Brian C. Smith from New York has blogged about the conference and the preconference. Check out his posts:

Brian C. Smith presented his own session about AudioBay. It's software for Windows Mobile that lets you find, subscribe, listen, and create podcasts on one device: a Pocket PC! Brian has a wiki page that explains the AudioBay software. The beauty is that you don't need iTunes or knowledge of RSS to consume and produce podcasts.

The final session I participated was a panel discussion with Mike Curtis, Karen Fasimpaur (from K12Handhelds), Steve Garner (from Seaford Schools), and me. Here are a few notes from that discussion:

  • Is the Palm Operating System going to go away since the Palm company is making handhelds that also run Windows Mobile? With over 30,000 different Palm applications out there, there will be a way to run those programs for a long time. The Palm company says it will sell handhelds with the Palm Operating System for the foreseeable future. It is stabilizing its product line so that new models do not come out as often, which is great for education. K12 Handhelds is focuses on making content that is mostly HTML based so it can be used on any platform.
  • Unfortunately, many educators in the audience gave poor reviews of the TriBeam charging station. They claim the handhelds do not keep their charge and that the unit doesn't fit devices correctly or function properly.
  • Mike suggested taking an AV cart and rigging it for charging. He suggests putting a shower curtain around it to hide the cord mess from picky administrators (and fire marshals).
  • A teacher expressed disappointment with Documents To Go because her gifted students could not graph directly on the handheld.
  • Documents To Go settings can be configured to have files go to a different location for each user. This can even work with students' network folders for access on any of the school's networked computers.
  • The huge benefit of wireless handhelds is not really surfing the net, but accessing networks for students to access and to hand in assignments. Grant Street Software's HiHo-Network Edition is an example of how this would work.
  • Mike explained Bluetooth like getting married, but, unlike American marriages, you can marry up to seven devices at once. Before any communication can happen, they must be paired by sharing a password. Participants learned that their phones and handhelds can communicate through Bluetooth. If you have a data plan for your wireless phone, you may be able to access the internet. You can also send address book contacts from your handheld to your phone.
  • Steve and Karen suggested that if your are writing a grant, write to include a third party data collector because it's such a hard job. It's important to note that showing growth takes of the schools in Steve's school did not see sizable increases in achievement until the fourth year.
Several MAHC participants spoke into my handheld's microphone and shared what they learned at the conference. Mike and I will have lots of audio from this conference to share on a future episode of Soft Reset!