Large Purchase of Handhelds

Palm's July 17, 2006 press release, Kansas School District Purchases 2,300 Palm TX Handhelds, is about Olathe Unified School District's purchase of 2,300 Palm TX handhelds. The district took advantage of Palm's Education Purchase Program to receive nearly 300 free TXs.

Olathe students have been using handhelds for a few years. I think the use of handheld computing in the school district continues to grow because teachers are given proper professional development and have others in the building to help:

Lyon acknowledges that access alone is not enough, so the district has an aggressive staff development program in place. "Staff development is critical to the success of the program," she said. "Each teacher has 15 hours of training on handhelds and how to use them effectively in classroom instruction. They can also repeat the training. In addition, we have instructional technology resource teachers in each building on a daily basis to assist teachers, model lessons, find applications and troubleshoot. Our goal is to have 100 percent of the staff well prepared."

Read more about Olathe schools and what they are doing with handhelds:

It's interesting when non-educators respond to news stories about large purchases of handhelds by schools. Many are supportive, knowing that our students deserve modern learning tools. However, there always seems to be those that are completely against handhelds in schools because they think it would make cheating easier. Many are also afraid the computers will be lost or stolen. Read the comments at the end of these articles from Palm InfoCenter and Digital Trends to see what I mean. I added this comment to the Digital Trends article:
Actually, this is a fantastic idea! Schools around the country are using handhelds (Palm and Pocket PC) as a learning tool. Not only great for word processing (with a keyboard), but there are dozens of great (and many of them are free) software programs for teachers and students. There is even scientifically based research showing that students using handhelds are learning better:

Schools are not finding lost or stolen handhelds to be a problem. Students really do take care of their handhelds because they are very personal learning devices. And, as for cheating, good classroom management can curb that. Plus, handhelds are not usually allowed to be out during tests, so it's not a big concern.

Ian Bell, staff writer for Digital Trends News, wrote about Olathe's purchase in Kansas Schools Order Another 2,300 Palms. While the article is mostly quotes from Palm's press release, Ian ends the article with some of his own commentary: "Now we just need to convince the school administration that iPods are needed in the classroom and we will be all set." Argh! If the school district has 4,600 handheld computers, why do they also need iPods? Just buy $20 memory cards and the students can listen to audio and watch video on their handhelds.