Thursday, October 26, 2006

I love technology... when it works!

Let me tell you about my day!

A middle school that I work with frequently purchased a classroom set of Palm Tungsten E2 handheld computers, and the GoKnow Handheld Learning Environment. Last week (or maybe it was earlier this week??? It's all such a blur) one of the Science teachers and I downloaded a great website on Constellation Mythology put together by Legg Middle School in Coldwater, MI. We've used this website before without any issues on our old Palm m130s. Today was a disaster!

Although I was already in the building to meet with a couple of other teachers, I had to help this poor, frazzled Science teacher deal with "Fatal Alerts" that kept about 1/3 of her handheld computers out of commission at any given time. She is very tech savvy, and tried resetting the affected Palms, but as soon as students tried to open the website they'd get another fatal alert.

My workaround was to delete the FlingIt software from the "bad" Palms, then reinstall by beaming it from a "good" Palm, and finally beaming the constellations website from a "good" Palm. It seemed to work.

The Science teacher was a real trooper. She had her students pair up and share a Palm while I did my best to keep up. I think by the time the whole incident was over about 15-20 Palms were affected by this mysterious problem.

Remember the old saying "Once bitten, twice shy"??? Why in the world would any teacher want to subject themself to this stressful, headache inducing scenario again? Technology is SUPPOSED to make our lives easier, no? This teacher understands how engaged the students are when the technology works. But had I not been there to troubleshoot and correct the problem (at least temporarily), I would not have blamed this teacher for saying "well I'll never try THAT again!"

I don't know if the problem was hardware (Palm) or software (GoKnow) or website related. GoKnow is aware of the situation and hopefully will offer some advice. I do know that this school has made a significant investment in hardware and software. The teachers are willing to use it, the students enjoy using it-- WHEN IT WORKS!

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