NEA Today: Ready To Upgrade?

I was excited to find this month's NEA Today in my mailbox because a handheld computer makes an appearance four times on the cover! In fact, the featured story is Ready to Upgrade? and its goal is to help educators get a handle on the world of gadgets and the Web.

Here are some of the best quotes from the article:

Technology in the classroom is also helping some students shed their writer’s block. “Before on writing exercises, I would be lucky to get two or three sentences,” Murray says. “Now, using the keyboards, they’ll type paragraphs.”

Creswell Middle School math teacher Ron Armstrong was stunned to find that giving kids handhelds actually made them want to spend more time on math problems. When his students first got the devices, he let them work on problems for the first five minutes of class while he took attendance—but that wasn’t enough. Now students show up to class 15 minutes early just to practice their math exercises.

“There’s a direct correlation between the technology teachers have in the classroom and the technology teachers use,” says Lary. “Those who have gotten things like a laptop, a document projector, or digital camera—as soon as they get them, they start using them as a resource.”

“We tend to teach how we learned,” says Eric Jefcoat, a computer literacy teacher in Fort Collins, Colorado. He notes that more and more teachers fresh out of colleges of education “don’t consider technology integration a big deal because they’ve grown up with it, come out of college learning it, and it’s just more natural to them.”

The most effective training programs offer educators multiple sessions and conferences and provide sample lesson plans that integrate technology into curriculum, hands-on learning opportunities, and access to helpful instructional Web sites.

Ready to Upgrade? has many sidebars with resources and information for teachers. You can access this information online by clicking the link at the end of the article's Web page.

Unfortunately the NEA Today's cover story only has room to barely scratch the surface of handheld computing in education and it only mentions blogging and podcasting in passing. However, I'm still excited because Ready to Upgrade will spur more interest in new learning tools. The last time handheld computing was featured in NEA Today's cover story was April 2003 with Are You Ready. It brought the idea of handhelds in the classroom to nearly three millions readers and sparked interest that lead to many of the implementations of handhelds that are in classrooms today.