PSPs in the Classroom

Playstations are cool. They do play great games, the video is excellent, the audio is supurb. They do have stupid sized discs and weird memory sticks, but that’s life with Sony.

But at AU$260, they do have a better quality and sized screen than the DS when it comes to surfing the internet and no additional software cartridge (not that I’ve actually seen a DS in real life, just photos on the internet).

They seem to be reliable from what the students tell me and a good $200 less than an iTouch (which can’t play Need for Speed Carbon).

As kids can txt at the speed of light (which is odd, as it seems to thake them 50 minutes to hand write 3 sentences?) it seems then the interface does not pose a significant time challenge when surfing the internet… not that they are writing to much,  just low end Google and Wiki reading.

So today, we hooked a couple of the kids PSPs up to the captive portal. We previouly could not do this to the CEO wireless, which is LEAP based. Sony doesn’t leap – why would it, it’s a Sony!

on a side note : OSX Leopard also dies on the CEO LEAP wireless network …. mmmm

So there are reasons for and against the Sony in the Classroom.

I’m advocating the use of portable devices.

Immediate negatives : There are issues over classroom equity; placing the student at risk with a valuable device in their pocket; the distraction in the classroom on initial use.

Immediate positives: The PSP is light, fits into a back pack; It is fairly robust; It has an intuitive interface that 90% of the kids with afluenssa understand; The sound is great, the video is great and the screen is big enough to allow classroom fact finding or browsing.

They are also fairly low cost in comparison with even a low end PC or Apple Device. The one thing that is it’s down fall – Its a Sony Playstation, so teachers may well approach it with some prejudice, and some students may take a more libertarian view of its use.

But consider a geography class. They can read about the land formation in a text book, but it is just a still photo in a book. With a PSP they can discover so much more.

I read my 4 year old daughter bedtime stories … one such favourite is “Ellies Growl”. One night she told me she had no idea what noise a zebra makes or a whale. Never slow to give kids li-ion powered devices, we looked them up on the internet as we read through the list of animals. Even at 4, I could see that the text and illustrations lacked depth – she is used to a wider media experience.

I think that the PSP et al, offer a half-way house in delivering technology into the classroom. It’s not a book and not a full blown computer … but it is portable, offers the ability to show small groups a video or listen to sounds, plays etc., – they have a massive opportunity in primary schools – simple buttons that 99% of the kids understand, and in secondary school will allow students to use them to take work home, look up the internet and more,

And at $260 not bad value … if only Sony add a keyboard, but then lately they seem more interested in cutting down the specs of the Playstation, not adding to it.