Handhelds in the News

Student with HandheldA search of Google News shows that handheld computers are making their way into more and more hands of students:

High-Tech Help: Students Have Access to New Gadgets This Year
by Gwenda Anthony, The Jackson Sun, August 1, 2006
Third and fourth graders at Isaac Lane Technology Magnet School will be using Palm handhelds for learning. The article does a great job of informing the public that these computers go way beyond simple PDA functions.The handhelds were funded by a grant. Students will begin taking the handhelds home after winter break.

Freshmen, Sophomores to Get PDAs at CHS
by Normaida Bright, Central Kentucky News-Journal, July 30, 2006
Campbellsville High School is phasing in 200 Dell Axims, which the writer describes as a "handheld mini computer." The handhelds will actually be leased to students and they will keep them after graduation. Students will be charged a $40 technology fee each year to help cover the cost. If the handheld is lost or stolen, students will have to pay $450 to replace it. The 200 handhelds will be phased in over two years. In fact, the whole first semester will be devoted to teachers and their professional development. CHA teachers will be prepared to use them when some students receive their handhelds second semester.

Gadgets Excite Educators
by Janese Heavin, Columbia Daily Tribune, July 30, 2006
Remember that school board member from Columbia, Missouri who was quoted in the paper? ""Who needs a palm pilot?" she asked. "We are not talking about world travelers who have business meetings all day. This technology is not applicable for teachers, staff or students." Well, I now give her kudos for sitting down with Matt Villasana, a fourth grade teacher at Shepard Elementary, to learn about handheld computing in education! For over an hour, Matt was able to show her that handhelds are not just electronic organizers for business folks. Matt hit home that handhelds engage students, which leads to achievement. The school board member would like to see more research, which SuccessLink says will be available this time next year. However, after talking with Matt, she said, "If it’s essential for Shepard, why is it not essential for another school?" Sounds like progress was made!

One Laptop Per Child Announces 4 Million Pre-Orders
by Jason Denwood, Pocket-lint, August 1, 2006
You may have heard about the $100 laptop project from MIT to bring inexpensive computing to developing nations. Sometimes this program is called One Laptop Per Child (a.k.a. OLPC). The project announced that Nigeria, Brazil, Argentina, and Thailand have each ordered 1 million laptops. What does this have to do with handhelds, you ask? The OLPC is actually more like a handheld than a laptop. It has a smaller screen, 500 Mhz processor, and limited memory. However, limitations not only make the hardware cheaper, but can actually make devices better learning tools. Many educators appreciate the simplicity of handheld computing and its lack of "excessive functionality."