AlphaSmart

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Created by Kate Todd for Children with Disabilities in the Library.

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AlphaSmart

  1. 1. AlphaSmart Created by Kate Todd for Children with Disabilities in the Library
  2. 2. Brief history • In 1993 AlphaSmart was introduced as an alternative to high cost computers • Then, you could get 30 AlphaSmarts for the price of one computer • With new features, AlphaSmarts became more expensive while computers were cheaper
  3. 3. What is an AlphaSmart? A keyboard, whose main purpose is word processing
  4. 4. Some good things about AlphaSmart Portable: use outdoors or at Starbucks Durable: can even be dropped Long battery life: 700 hours on AA batteries No Internet or other distractions
  5. 5. Uses for the AlphaSmart • Writing assignments • Keyboarding skills • Student notetaking • Text to speech
  6. 6. AlphaSmart in the classroom • In one class, AlphaSmarts were kept on shelves around the room • When students were writing, they could choose a computer, an AlphaSmart or pencil and paper • There was no stigma attached to choosing an AlphaSmart for writing
  7. 7. AlphaSmart and parents • When students are classified with a disability, the school district may provide assistive technology • Some parents want the child to have a laptop computer since they feel it has great value • Parents view an AlphaSmart as a less desirable alternative
  8. 8. AlphaSmart and students • I knew one student, eligible for assistive technology, who chose an AlphaSmart over a laptop • I asked him why • He said, “When I use a computer, I spend so much time choosing a font that I never get to finish my homework”
  9. 9. AlphaSmart in public libraries • In 1997, Richard Wanderman suggested circulating AlphaSmarts in public libraries but librarians were not convinced • In 2001, North Bend (OR) Public Library reported circulating AlphaSmarts inside and outside their libraries • In 2004, Hartford (CT) Public Library received LSTA funds to purchase AlphaSmarts for their ESOL classes
  10. 10. AlphaSmart and Renaissance Learning • In 2005, AlphaSmart, Inc. merged with Renaissance Learning • We know them as the distributors for Accelerated Reader • They now highlight the product names Neo2 and Dana
  11. 11. Is there a future for AlphaSmart? • Unfortunately, I believe the use of AlphaSmarts is declining • Recently, it was highlighted on a retro technology web site • But schools may still have them and they are valuable for students who are easily distracted

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