5 Tools for Your Palm to Help You Maximize Student Success
Copyright 2003 Miguel Guhlin ; Updated 05/11/2004 5:30 AM
Finding the right tools as a classroom teacher to use with your Palm can take a long time. While you could go out on the Internet and find them yourself, here are just a few software titles and peripherals that you should find useful. As you and your district move into a Palm implementation, before you have the first truck pull in with the classroom sets of Palm handhelds, make sure that your initial "image" of the Palm has the tools you need already loaded on it. This can save you valuable time.
In a review of various uses of of Palm Handheld Computers, SRI International raised the following points regarding the use of handhelds in the classroom. Specifically, it addressed their impact on student behavior, motivation, classroom activities. It also sought to assess student and teacher productivity. Some of its findings are shown below:
  • 96% agreed that handheld digital devices “are an effective instructional tool for teachers”
  • 95% agreed that the use of handheld digital devices in learning activities “has a positive impact on students’ learning”
  • 93% agreed that “having a classroom set of handheld digital devices had a positive effect on my teaching”
The study also reported that the biggest benefits to students were that “students gained a great deal of productivity from the handheld digital devices as an instructional tool” and that the “positive motivational effect that handheld digital devices have on students proved to be quite strong. This impacted students’ behavior, resulting in an enthusiasm that helped to drive individual academic progress" (District Administrators: Education in Hand, April 2002).
But, the real question is this: Is what comes standard on the Palm enough to be productive from the get-go? Here are 6 tools to get you started.
Tool #1: How Can You and your Students Beam Multiple Documents to Each Other at Once?
If you like to save time and hate to do things over and over again, then you definitely will want to take advantage of the Palm handheld computer's built-in beaming component. The advantage of beaming a document from your handheld to another's handheld is that you don't have to wait until they synchronize files on their handheld to the classroom computer. Students can have have the copy in their Palm immediately, then turn around and share it with other students.
While each Palm has an easy way to beam documents, the limitation is that you can only send one document at a time. This can make the process interminably long and requires constant attention--you have to interrupt your work each moment to "accept" or to "beam" a document. The alternative is to use an $8 shareware program called BeamPro. This program also allows you to beam to non-Palm devices like your phone. Not only can you send multiple file but BeamPro allows you greater control of what you can send. For example, administrators may need to quickly share scheduled appointments, memos with others. Another version of this program, BeamPro Expo, allows you to constantly beam information from a Palm. This means that students could walk in front of this constantly transmitting Palm at the beginning of class to get their sponge activity or documents to be used that day.
Developer: eCamm - http://www.ecamm.com
Tool #2: How Can Students Project from their Handheld?
As digital projectors find their way in classrooms, or at the very least become available to someone on the grade-level or instructional team, being able to have students create Powerpoint presentations on their Palm, then project from their Palm is important. A quick way to project information from any Palm powerpoint presentation via the digital projector is the $200 Margi: Presenter to Go. Margi is a presentation solution that can provide a simple, fast and flexible tool for the delivery of high-quality color presentations using your handheld computer. Margi provides specific support for the Palm handheld, as well as MS Office software. Not only can you project from your handheld computer but also view your presenter's notes simultaneously.
Developer: Margi - http://store.yahoo.com/margistore/pressdcar.html
Tool #3: How Can Students Print from their Handheld?
An alternative to sharing Palm documents using Margi is available, but it involves printing instead of projecting. While Palm Tungsten owners have access to an application called PrintBoy, which facilitates printing wirelessly, another possibility for older Palm owners is to use an application called PalmPrint. This $40 Palm application can print information from the built-in Palm databases - memos, schedules, address book information, todo lists, expenses, emails, and clipboard contents. No extra peripherals are needed since PalmPrint uses the infrared port on your Palm.
Developer: Stevens Creek - http://www.stevenscreek.com/pilot/palmprint.shtml
Tool #4: How can Handhelds be used to facilitate prompt feedback on short assessments like quizzes?
Administering and grading quizzes can be an imposition on a teacher's time. But, what if handhelds could make the job easier? What if students could receive the quiz on their handheld, beam the responses back, then the teacher could have the quiz graded instaneously? Such a tool exists--it is called ClassroomWizard, and can be found online at http://www.classroomwizard.com/ Teachers can create a quiz on the web, students download the test to their handheld, then upload the QuizWizard. Results are immediately graded, and made available online to the teacher. Results are available to both students and teachers without having to wait on the teacher.
Developer: Scantron - http://www.classroomwizard.com
Tool #5: How can you and your students publish web pages to your Handhelds?
Although you can certainly put MS Office documents on your Palm in their original format, or, if you have Acrobat, in Portable Document Format (PDF), you may have a need for creating linked, clickable documents. An easy to use, freeware program exists that allows you to use MS Word--or any HTML/Web page editor--to create web pages that can be shared on a Palm. This would include documents students could take home for homework and read on their Palms, or as a way of publishing student-created documents.You can quickly convert web-based documents as well using a program entitled iSiloX. You can find this free program (available for both Mac and Windows) online at http://www.isilox.com/. The program also comes with online tutorials that are easy to follow.

Tool #6: How can you and your students easily create concept maps?
Creating concept maps, or graphic organizers, on a Palm Handheld was possible using the free PicoMap, another more well-established tool has found its way to the Palm. If you have used Inspiration or Kidspiration, that electronic graphic organizer available for both Mac and PC, you are familiar with an incredible tool. Now, Inspiration is available on the Palm Handheld. Many of the same benefits that are found in Inspiration are available in the Palm version, including
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• Create symbols quickly with the stylus, RapidFire® or keyboard command options
• Format symbols with a library of colors and shapes
• Expand ideas for writing in the integrated Outline View
• Sync with Inspiration on the desktop
• Transfer information seamlessly to popular handheld word processors
• Get started quickly with ready-made templates
• Zoom in or out to work effectively on a small screen
• View and edit words when zoomed out with the magnify-text tool
• Print projects directly via infrared, WiFi, Bluetooth or USB
• Password-protect files when sharing handheld devices
Get more information online from Inspiration and/or K-12 Handhelds