Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Alphasmart Can Go to You Know Where!!!

Ahhh the Alphasmart, Neo, or whatever the school wants to call it. Hailed as the answer to your writing prayers. Is handwriting is stressful for you? Do people including yourself have a hard time reading your writing? Organization problems in writing? Here you get this outdated piece of equipment it will fix everything. Yeah sure if your goal is to increase frustration. Have you ever tried to write a entire English paper when you can only see five lines at a time. Try it? It is not easy at all.

Ask your school to not only see one but let you use it.

How about if the teacher is using a worksheet. She has it uploaded on Google docs. You know technology is awesome and teachers can do things like this. OK now get out the Alphasmart and get to the worksheet. Wait what? It's not possible. You can't pull up a worksheet on the Aphasmart? So what do you do? option one use the Alphasmart and type print and attach too worksheet. Sure that is doable. Wait you have technology that you can pull up the worksheet and type right on it and print it out as a whole. Awesome lets use that. Oh wait sorry school says no do it the hard way.

While this technology was great when it came out and probably is still a great tool in elementary school. Alphasmart and high school. Yeah not a good mix. There have been so many new advances and yet the schools stick with archaic devices. Think about it. What if I came into your house and took away your high speed internet and gave you dial up? Or if I took your laptop and gave you one of the first computers. That's what the schools are doing. They are trying to help but they are stuck in the dark ages.

Now in our case I have a solution. It's called a iPad. You can do so much more with the iPad than the Alphasmart. Here let me put them side by side for you.

Access Google Docs
See Whole Document
Writing Organization Help
Use at Home and School



We got a iPad to use as a tool. It is not a toy. We have Inspiration (link here) on our devices. It really helps with visually mapping out a writing project. The Alphasmart not so much. How about seeing the whole paper without having to print it. Ipad yes, Alphasmart nope you have to print and then go back five lines at a time to make corrections. How about getting into Google docs. iPad full access Alphasmart limited. You can save documents but you cannot pull down worksheets etc.  iPad has a calendar on it, even has school planner apps. I do believe the Alphasmart has something on it that can be used as a planner but its a bit more complicated. Bonus when kid walks in the door the iPad automatically syncs with mine. I know what homework needs to be done, what long term assignments are due. No wait I would know but I don't.
Why do I not know because as of yet the school will not allow the iPad in. I have a meeting later this week to get it in the school. Most of the honors teachers have already allowed all students to bring in iPads or laptops to be used in the classroom. They know you cannot write a honors paper on a Alphasmart. Well you could but it will take much longer and cause more frustration than just letting the student use a laptop or iPad. 

I only touched on iPad uses in the classroom for classwork. Lets add into it a child who also needs a communicative device. Yep Ipad does it. So instead of the district buying two devices one for communication and one for writing it can be all in one. I don't know the specs on the communicative devices the schools use because we don't use them. The only time our iPad was used as communicative was in band camp. There were a group of kids from Japan who did not speak English and my kid wanted to talk to them so he downloaded a app that translated. 

Here are the reasons in the past I have been told no:
  1. The school is not set up for newer technology. Ok this was valid but wait during the summer the schools updated all their systems with the purpose of allowing students to bring their own technology if they choose.
  2. The ipad wont be used to access the curriculum so it cannot be used. Yeah see everything above and tell me it does not help access the curriculum.
  3. The iPad costs to much. I'm not asking you to buy one. We already have it.
  4. They have the Alphasmart there. See above again and most schools will not allow the Alphasmart to go between school and home. So great you electronically made a schedule on the Alphasmart yet you can't access it at home.
Those are just a few excuses I have heard. I am pretty sure the meeting this week will go well. I already have the majority of the teachers on board. They already know that yes what I am bringing to the table is better than what they are. Hopefully the team will see it the same way and we get the use of the iPad in place of the Alphasmart added to our current IEP. Maybe if we can slowly get the educators to see the endless possibilities of current technology we can get them to start implementing more and more of them.

(I have not been asked or given any device, apps, or compensation for review purposes. These are my opinions and things I personally own and use)

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