Monday, March 12, 2007

3rooms, many PS3s, dozens of PSPs

Trying to log in to BloggerToday I've been at Sony's rather exclusive 3rooms venue somewhere in the City of London for the launch of the PSP (Playstation Portable, or if you're into typos and beverages, the Playstation Potable). 3rooms is basically a venue to demonstrate the Playstation 3 and today the ConnectED people, Sony people, people who'd been involved in some pilots and some invited guests got together for the PSP in education launch event. If you're interested there are some more photos on Flickr or here's a video of a previous event from the ThreeSpeech blog...

I'd quite like to see if we can get things like Breeze/Connect working on the PSP - it runs Flash fine, but the memory is quite limited and I wonder if this would be a factor which prevents us from doing so.Replying to a forum post on WinsLEOur Moodles work fine and today I went a stage further than I did in the previous post and responded to a forum posting using the PSP's browser. The HTMLEdit control didn't render so normal text and smilies done by :-) would be fine. Also, apparently the PSP's browser doesn't allow File: controls on web pages (the sort of control by which you attach a file to a webmail message, for example) to access the device's file system, which is a shame. The Sony VP responsible for PS was there today and said that there will be further iterations of the PSP (lighter, smaller, faster, etc.) and no doubt the software will improve too. Apparently it's possible to embed code on a web page which allows the browser to access local files, but until it's in the browser there'll be not much uploading of files...
Delegates I recognised today: Irene Krechowiecka from The Guardian and previous MoodleMoots, Merlin John (of postings passim) and Doug Brown of the DfES, who addressed an audience sat on a mixture of enormous sofas, bean bags, bar stools and stools shaped like mushrooms...


  1. I must say that I am green with envy at you visiting the 3rooms! Being an avid Playstation gamer, I'd love to set foot in that place with all those lovely gadgets...!

    Now I can see that you can do videoconferencing using a PSP with ConnectED's camera. I can see that you can connect to a (Moodle) VLE and post in a forum and access activities.

    My question is, why would I, or rather a student, want to use their PSP to do this? Is it the most appropriate means to do this? Would I, as a student, want my handheld gaming console be used for school work?! Would my answer, as a student, be along the lines of, "Stuff you, matey, it's my games machine and I ain't doing school stuff on it. Innit?!"

    From what I know of the PSP, it's not got a touch screen and so you have to use the on-screen keyboard to type anything. This would make posting in a forum or to a blog laborious for anything of length and so only short posts would be made.

    If a student was to use their PSP from home, they'd have to have wireless connectivity in the house. If they've got this, chances are there's at least one laptop in the house, so wouldn't they be more likely to use this instead to "do school stuff", listen to their mp3s on iTunes and post to their MySpace at the same time (and probably play Burnout Legends on the PSP as well - damn these multi-tasking youngsters!)?

    As for wireless use of the PSP in school, there's various hurdles for them to overcome - their form tutor confiscating it as "gaming isn't educational" (yeah, right), the network manager not allowing anything from outside to wirelessly connect to his network and the health & safety rep not allowing them to plug in the PSP to recharge it as it hasn't been electrically tested by county!!

    Maybe I'm missing something here - I'd be more than happy if you'd let me know what it is. It just seems to me at the moment that the PSP isn't the best bet for videoconferencing, accessing web content and other educational activities. I'd have thought that a better bet, besides a full blown computer, would be a PDA or one of the more advanced mobile phones. It's likely that you'll find more students owning a PDA or mobile phone than a PSP...

  2. The comment made by a teacher from Maplesden Noakes School who trialled these said that the children were far more mature in their approach to using a "gaming device" than the adults were... they simply saw it as a tool which would do whatever and used it appropriately. The example he gave was - children use PCs at school and at home for "school work" and also use them for games - they didn't see the gaming PC being "sullied" by the fact that it was also being used for "serious work" - they were easily able to distinguish between form and function.
    In answer to the keyboard, it's quite possible to get a decent speed with the keys on a PSP - I was quite surprised how fast I got, plus there's also a fold-out qwerty keyboard available. I might have something else up my sleeve I'd like to try as well... and if it's easy input you require, have you seen the potential offered by the technology behind something like TalkMan? Speak to your PSP... got to be easier than typing...
    Yes, the limitation is the wireless access is required, but in a house where more than one person might be competing for The Laptop (or Mum is busy using it for her tax return) then this provides another way in - it's far more robust than a laptop or even a PDA (in my opinion).
    As for multitasking and media - it handles video and audio very well (a friend of mine's son watches video from YouTube on his most of the time when he's not playing games) and with its ability to read RSS feeds it has lots of potential to tap into resources which a school's Moodle might output (for example).
    As far as plugging in goes, the battery life is eight or nine hours of use (try that with a laptop) - charged at home - and mac addresses can be enabled, tracked and blocked by a school's network admin, thus providing and opportunity to sanction against misuse (if that's what the school wants to do).
    I think it's a better bet than many phones due to the screen, but it's not designed to replace other devices (in the main) but complement them - another thing which came out of the pilots.

  3. The Educational technology Conference in Indiana (USA) will be giving each attendee a PSP (700+). We hope to challenge educators to think outside the box and take note of new student learning styles.

    More @