Apr 22 2010

PlayStation Portable

PlayStation Portable (PSP) in Education:

Sony developed the PSP as a quality handheld gaming device. Millions have been sold worldwide and somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million in the UK. That is a lot of devices and they are mainly in the hands of young people. In that case the smart question is “How can we exploit the quality, numbers sold and young peoples engagement with the devices for the benefit of teaching and learning”?

That is what we set out to do 3 years ago, and I describe on this page where we have currently got to and where we hope to go in the future.

Functionality

The first thing we focused on was the functionality of the PSP, what actually could it do? OK it was a gaming device, but exploiting computer games for the benefit of learning was and remains a challenge. (Look out for future postings, we are going to get into computer games for education!). What we found was the PSP was a high quality multi-media player with a great screen, flexible storage, open standard file formats and really easy and comfortable to use.

Lets look at some of these elements in a little more detail.

psp_functions

This is not a complete list of the PSP functions, I have not included PlayStation Network for example. However the functions listed are the ones we have used most extensively in teaching. I will include some examples of classroom on this page.

How to operate a PSP!

A teacher colleague who was introducing PSPs to her children spent a great deal on time creating a worksheet about how to operate a PSP. Somewhat frustratingly for her the children did not look at them once and by a process of trial and error and sharing what they new the children very quickly became expert users. It is worth reflecting upon this, teachers are not always the expert in the 21st Century classroom, and the levels of self-motivation the children show in using devices like the PSP even when it is for “school stuff” is what drives the potential of such devices as learning tools.

Adults often like to have some sort of written information, but I like to keep it to the bare minimum so they are encourage to explore and experiment just like young people. This is a slide and worksheet I provide.

Where is all the data stored?

The PSP will hold some some data such as network settings in the device itself, everything else, images, sounds, videos, etc are stored on a memory stick. The memory stick type is “Memory Stick Pro Duo” not the more common SD card (used by many digital cameras).

Format and File Structure

It is possible to insert a blank memory stick and to save data, for example if you take pictures or film video the device will create an appropriate folder. However we have always found it is better to format the stick using the device’s memory stick formatting function (Setting – System Settings – Format Memory Stick). By using this approach all the relevant folders are created and this is essential if images, video, sound etc are to be copied onto the memory stick for later use by students. If files are put into the wrong folders they may not play.

Reading the Memory Stick.

The memory stick can be taken out and read by a computer by using an appropriate (Memory Stick Duo compatible) either external or if you are lucky enough one built into your computer.

If you do not have either of these the memory stick can be read whilst still in the PSP. Using a usb to mini usb cable, plug the larger end into your computer and the mini end into the top of the PSP. Make sure your PSP and computer are turned on. The PSP should automatically go into USB Connection mode (You will need a uptodate version of the PSP operating system, currently 6.2). If it does not automatically change then you can manually select the option, you will find it in system settings.

File Structure

You will see from the table above SONY are committed to using “open standards” for file types e.g. jpeg or mp3. The PSP also uses a simple and obvious folder and naming structure. The following image was a screen shot taken of the folder structure when opened on a Mac.

Using PSP Functionality in the Classroom

So far we have only covered some of the basic functions of the PSP. This page and additional posts will cover functionality in much greater depth. However it makes sense to describe these functions in the context of learning and teaching, so this is what we are going to do.

We have already created some videos which will can be seen below, it is our intention to create more tutorial videos and some text based support over the coming months.

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