Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Teachers of technology need to be POWER USERS of technology. For me, this is a job perk. I’m the type of person who would be reading about and using the latest and greatest technologies in whatever career I chose. The impact of technology on our day-to-day lives is an endless source of fascination for me. In that regard I have found the perfect job: examining the latest technologies, guessing at their potentials, learning how to make the best use of that potential, and passing along that information to my students.

From my observations, and from information I’ve gleaned from employers, mobile technologies are where it’s at and where it’s going. Corporations are arming their mobile work force with Blackberries or Treos and sending them off to do business around the world. Through their handheld devices, knowledge workers remain tethered to the corporate data and communications networks with power nearly equal that of those strapped to their desks at the home office.

A few months ago I purchased the Cingular 8125 handset – arguably the most powerful Smartphone available, for the purpose of learning about every mobile service and feature available. The 8125 (read a review at http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2006/02/21/review-cingular-8125/) has a slide-out qwerty keyboard and a touch screen, and runs Windows Mobile 5.0. I purchased a 2 GB Mini SD card to support the storage of media files (MP3’s, photos, and movies). I use the phone in my lectures to demonstrate several topics:

  • Digital Convergence
  • I/O – Stylus/Touchscreen, Graffiti, Handwriting Recognition, Voice Recorder, Speech Recognition, T9 Predictive Text Input
  • Storage – 2GB on a thumbnail-size card!!
  • Communications – email, SMS text messaging, IM, voice
  • Mobile software – Personal Information Management, MS Office, Notes,
  • Media – Media player, photos, movies, music
  • E-books
  • Mobile Web
  • E-commerce
  • File Synchronization

I am able to demo concepts from nearly every chapter in the textbook with this device. Students enjoy learning traditional concepts when related to mobile devices. Using software from SOTI (www.soti.net) called Pocket Controller, I am able to display my Smartphone display on the big screen for my students to view via the LCD projector connected to my notebook, connected to my Smartphone.

There is definitely a strong argument for why departments should be providing technology teachers with high-end Smartphones. Unfortunately, at my school, there are rules that prevent departments from funding cell phones for faculty (don’t ask me why). Fortunately, I was able to get the 8125 free (a $499 value) with a new contract from Cingular through a service on eBay.

Tip of the Month: The “How it works” video demo provided by Intel at http://www.intel.com/products/processor_number/chart/index.htm is invaluable when it comes to teaching students about how to judge the power of various processors.

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