Neshobe is currently using PDAs for data collection in relation to student assessments
and tracking of our technology inventory.  I've experimented with using them for data
collection (staff/student conducted surveys).

I looked at Learner Profile, but cost was prohibitive for licensing that would allow us use
by all of our teachers (at the time the advertised school-wide licensing package only
actually covered 5 computers).

I opted for Palms and a program called ThinkingBytes (recently acquired by DataViz) --
The software allows for simple creation of relational databases.  I especially like its
ability legible data entry forms.  However, its power is its ability to interface with
Microsoft Access (our school's student database is in Access) and from there out into
Word or Excel through mail merge.

Pocket PCs would have been nice -- but had to find something that fit the budget.  At
the time it still required a third party product to open/integrate Access databases on the
Pocket PC.

Our PE teacher finds that using a simple Excel spreadsheet faster for grading students
in the field.  (At the time ThinkingBytes offered a suite that included the database
program as well as interfaces with Word and Excel. Their Excel program proved
problematic. The DataVis product works great for our PE teacher -- note previous
mention of the acquisition...)

I still have some concerns about Palm's vitality as a company, however needed to start
somewhere -- like any new technology we introduce in the schools we battle both the
learning curve and getting teachers to 'effectively' use and integrate them.  The cost of
Pocket PCs is dropping and software selections are expanding every day...

In the mean time, even with better/cheaper products being released both the hardware
and software should meet their intended purpose even if/ever Palm goes belly up under
Microsoft's dominance...

Hurdles we had were setting up Palm's Desktop to work on the network and still offer
users security for their calender and personal address books (yes, they are school
property, but power in getting teachers to use them is to show them how technology
enhances their own life...) -- this was a problem under NT4.0 but is workable with
Windows2000 Server.  Another is someone to actually write the most simple of
databases (how many educators can actually use true database programs -- so get
ready to add that to your the list of things in your IT job description...)

Beyond data collection and our school...

I wrote a simple database that my own fifth grader could use to track his homework
assignments and vital phone numbers (his list of playmates as well as mom, dad, and
physician). He also uses the calculator features to check homework. I understand a
classmate of his is using an English Dictionary as part of an IEP.

We've had a couple of students show up with some of the $15 to $20 personal
organizers.  Not much power, but adequate to keep track of homework, phone lists, and
serve as calculators.  (This power of these 'dimestore' devices is going to grow -- I've
been pushing our educators to be open to their use.  The challenge is to be getting
these on our networks -- mark those words, the time is coming...)

We considered PDA use for keyboarding to allieviate the word processing load on our
computer lab -- however the currently available folding keyboards are costly and not kid
proof...  (Anyone have experience with the new 'flexible rubber' keyboard wraps?)

Hope this helps,

Mark Bowman
Neshobe School

On 6 Jan 2003 at 9:16, Caty Wolfe wrote:

> Hi all!
> Does anyone use PDAs with teachers for data collection?  I am trying to
> figure out if we should go with Palm OS or Pocket PC OS.
> Thanks!
> Caty Wolfe
> Cold Hollow Career Center