Is one Ipad worth it? No!

Subtitle: If you want a gadget in class look for open-source alternatives.

This post has been in the making for a while but until recently it was pretty formless. Thanks to a post Only one iPad in the classroom I was prompted to write it at last. Also full disclosure, I wanted to update my equipment post! 😉

The trouble with iProducts The good with iProducts
1. Rapid evolution in system versions 1. Amount of software
2. Closed system 2. Standard UI experience

Essentially what is good about iProducts is what makes it bad for teachers – (in)flexibility. Because iProducts is a closed system it makes the UI (User Interface) experience good. But technology has to be malleable enough for teachers to be able to adapt it and not for teachers to have to adapt to it. I would argue that iProducts restrict this aspect much more so than equivalents, namely open-sourced ones.

Since a lot of very useful teacher material can be accessed via a browser one can argue that if you have a cheap handheld that can browse the internet efficiently then that is sufficient. And there are plethora of cheap Android tablets out there.

However this post will not cover Android tablets but will mention the current device I use in  class if no computer is available.

OpenPandora Handheld

The OpenPandora handheld was devised by a small group of open-source handheld enthusiasts.

I use it mainly for playing video and displaying text/images. As far as language education-related software available there is only really one, Anki, a flashcard program. But if you peruse the software repository you may find something useful.

OpenPandora plus accessories
OpenPandora plus accessories

(photo: OpenPandora plus accessories)

1.OpenPandora running a version of Linux, can get 10 hours runtime before recharge

2.Case with room to store two SD cards, USB-SDcard adapter, 4-port mini USB hub, a USB-miniUSB cable

3. Flat portable speaker (excellent battery life using 2 rechargeable AAs)

4. Cable case (stores TV-out cable plus USB-microUSB cable to charge my phone from Pandora handheld)

Pandora plus accessories in bag
Pandora plus accessories in bag

(photo: Pandora plus accessories in bag)

Whew! I don’t think I did much Apple bashing in this post although I still feel this was a somewhat rambling addition to the blog. I guess the sentiment that was bubbling away underneath may be captured somewhat by this post On Short-Term Ed-Tech Memory by Audrey Watters.

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Video in the classroom – equipment

This post is about the player that I use to show video. Please note that this is not the most ideal player – an ideal one would play any and all video formats and be very easy to use for the average person.

The GP2X (model F100)

This is a handheld from Korea, it is able to play DivX/Xvid video files. I use a video convertor to convert files to the DivX format. It crucially also has a TV out port (S-Video) so that you can hook it up to a TV or a projector. The first picture shows the player in a case.

The following pictures show it with the case closed and a mobile phone next to it for a size comparison; the player in my bag along with a portable speaker (the blue object) and a see through case containing the power adapter and video cable; and finally a shot of my bag when closed.

Hopefully the above pictures should give you a good idea of the portability of the player.

Plus points:

  • Portable
  • TV out

Negative points:

  • Can only play DivX formated files
  • Not very user friendly

Note that there is a new version of the player – model number F200, which has a touchscreen and more powerful speakers.

My next post will describe the software and related processes needed to use video files taken from the net on this player.

Update:

See updated equipment post