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Meet Library Media Specialist, Ann Bell

(photo courtesy of Ann Bell)
A.B. Please share with readers the inspiration behind your latest book "Handheld Computers in Schools and Media Centers."

In the late 1990’s, technology funding was cut in many school districts and alternative methods were needed to meet students’ educational needs. To meet this need, I began exploring the concept of one-on-one computing and handheld devices rose to the forefront. From this research, I developed and taught the online class "Learning Applications for the iPod and Handheld Computer" for the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Working with students around the world, I became even more convinced as to the need of mobile resources available 24/7 for students K-16. Therefore, I expanded my research within the field and approached Linworth Publishing with the idea and within months, "Handheld Computers in Schools and Media Centers" came to fruition.

A.B. From your experience, how are educators embracing the challenge of using 21st century technologies in classes/curriculum?

I have found that most educators are excited to embrace the new technologies, but time and funding limits innovative use of technology. In addition, the extreme emphasis on testing and data driven curriculum in some schools ignores student and teacher creativity and multiple intelligences in students. Teachers that have been able to rise above these limitations are doing fantastic things to enrich their curriculum with newer technology. Podcasting and video casting are become exciting tools in many schools along with the use of eBooks. Teachers and students can now better utilize their time with the ability to access their information 24/7 using mobile devices.

A.B. Do you find teachers or administrators reluctant to adopt new teaching strategies using technology? How do you get them on board?

Yes, there are pockets of administrators and teachers who are reluctant to adopt newer technologies within the curriculum. For me, one of the best ways to get them on board is first to encourage administrators and teachers to become users of newer technologies in their personal lives and for school administrative tasks. When they are comfortable with the technology, they soon begin to discover ways to apply that technology to their classroom and how it can also benefit their students. A media specialist may need to spend time doing in-service and one-on-one training to help troubleshoot problems and encourage school wide use of mobile devices. Some schools have provided handheld devices for each teacher and have discovered that teachers are able to save time doing routine, administrative tasks and soon develop creative ways to incorporate mobile devices into their curriculum.

A.B. What is your forecast for 2007 and the role of Media Centers in schools?

I see a wider and wider gulf developing between the haves and the have-nots among schools. Our professional journals are full of exciting projects being done in the schools that have the financial backing and innovative, supportive administration. Sadly, without adequate funding and innovative administration, some schools are actually backsliding in their use of technology as their computers age and funding is not available to replace them. Whether in a haves or a have-nots school, the Media Center of 2007 will become more and more vital within the school to help both teachers and students meet their educational needs. Media Specialists are taking the lead in adopting new technologies and training administrators, teachers, and students in its fullest potential.

A.B. While I have you here, please share with readers any blogs and/or links that they could benefit from.

Online course – "Learning Applications for the iPod® and Handheld Computer" for the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
'There's Nothing like the Power of Technology Ownership'

'Educators have got to stop treating this stuff as if it were somehow special. We've got to look at technology as if it were as common as desks.' By Dr. David Thornburg, District Administrator.

‘Research Brief. Handheld Computers in Education.’ Question: What strategies are successful for school leaders to integrate and maintain handheld technologies in schools?

Technology & Innovation in Education

"Electronic School: Getting a Handle on Handhelds" by David Pownell and Gerald D. Bailey.

Websites on the Use of Handheld Computers

Thanks Ann!

-Amy Bowllan


  1. I am a grad student in a school library media program. Currently we are discussing cataloging, and since it has become such a technological process, since the days of the card catalog, I would very much appreciate your opinion/advice about the importance of having a written technical processing policy for cataloging materials. Should the policy list specifics for different grade levels? I am especially interested in the elementary level.

  2. Consistency in cataloging is essential for ease of retrieval. Peoples’ memories may fail them and workers move from job to job, so a written policy is critical to maintaining that consistency. An irretrievable item is the same as no item at all.

    Including grade level ranking can be a great time saver for some. However, those grade level entries should be of a more general category. Student development varies so much at each grade level and creative educators are able to modify all types to meet their individual needs.