High Tech High School: Introducing Visors Into the Classroom

Ballard High in Seattle is going high tech this semester. Students will use the Visors to take notes in class, track homework assignments, create outlines and write reports, share information, and record their grades. They can also read novels and news, use an electronic dictionary and thesaurus, and study for tests.

Dr. Engle, Ballard High Principal, anticipates that students using the computers will develop stronger organizational skills, improve academic achievement, and gain valuable proficiency with technology. "I am committed to making technology available to all students,'' said Dr. Engle. "We need to introduce technology into education early and integrate it into the daily lives of students.'' The pilot project is intended to generate data for a grant at the district level, then statewide.

Dr. Engle envisions having kiosks on campus for students to upload completed assignments, download new homework, and retrieve current information from a variety of sources. The infrastructure could then be replaced with wireless networks that take advantage of wireless Springboard modules available for the Visor.

Terry Bergeson, Superintendent of Public Instruction, recently stated that efforts like this "...are tremendous on a number of important levels. Students who become proficient with technology have a substantial advantage upon entering the working world.''

The project has been made possible by the joint efforts of PDA Verticals and Handspring Inc., which donated half of the computers for the program, as well as education-related Palm OS developers, and The Ballard High School Foundation.

"The Ballard High program is an excellent example of how educators and organizations like PDA Verticals are integrating handheld computers into rich opportunities for students and teachers alike,'' stated Susan Yost, Education Markets Manager for Handspring. "Handspring is excited about supporting dynamic classrooms that are embracing technology.''

PDA Verticals was selected to supply handhelds and software for its expertise with education and technology, industry relationships, and innovative customization process. PDA Verticals publishes pdaED (www.pdaED.com), a website devoted to classroom use of PDAs. It is the only company that provides handhelds customized with pre-loaded software selected by the user. Typically, users must purchase the device and software separately and install the software.

Students and educators at Ballard High will use the pdaED.com website to share experiences in online discussion forums and publish assignments produced using their handhelds. You can track the progress of the project, participate in lively discussions, and learn more about handhelds in education on the website. PDA Verticals is also helping teachers develop a curriculum that integrates the devices into all aspects of learning. Staff members will help train students.

"We are excited to be involved in a project to improve academic achievement,'' said Chad Roberts, CEO of PDA Verticals. "The students participating will be gaining life skills that will give them the confidence to compete in today's world.''

The Ballard High collection of educational software will be available on customized, pre-loaded handheld computers for sale on pdaED.com in March 2001. Parents, students, and educators in the US and Canada can select and configure handheld computers, which will be shipped ready-to-use.

The Ballard High software package includes QuizApp by PDA Verticals, Thesaurus by DDH Software, Four.Zero by HandMark, powerOne Graph by Infinity Software, BDicty Gold by Beiks, and Teacher's PET by Coffee Pot Software.

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Way cool!

nerdtech @ 2/2/2001 10:33:58 AM #
And with things like COOLA, where the teacher can put in homework due dates on their students calendars, as well as other items (docs for reference, etc.) for study, this could prove to be a very interesting and exciting thing...

Way back when...

Springboarder @ 2/3/2001 2:26:36 AM #
I applaud this effort wholeheartedly! I am not only reading this via a Visor Prism, but sending this via wireless (Minstrel S modem) using the Targus Stowaway keyboard, whilst sitting in a restaurant in Monroe, WA. See? We're EVERYWHERE. The world is changing, and your class is in keeping with those changes. I sure would have loved to be involved in a program like this when I was in school, but back in those days, we didn't have 'lectric lights in school.

Fiction to fact again

Quick Sliver @ 2/4/2001 1:29:20 AM #
I love this Idea! The posabilities are endless. The only thing that wories me is that this is yet another item to leap from the SF stories into our lives.
Ain't high tech wonderful? :}

Terrific idea and the school you be applauded

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/4/2001 9:06:37 AM #
It's wonderful to hear stuff like this. Contrast this with the story of apalling ignorance, my nephew told me. At his high school they are not allowed to have cell phones, because and they actually sent a note home saying this "they could be used to trigger a bomb". Apparently the same kid who could use his cell phone to trigger a bomb, wouldn't be gright enought to use his mandatory TI 83+ calculator to do so. You hear stories about this Seattle high school, then you hear stories like this and you fear for the state of the American educaztion system

good and bad

K-G @ 2/4/2001 3:04:24 PM #
There are advantages and disadvantages of this program:

Advantages-More Orgaized, Better understanding of technology, easy on Students

Disadvantages- Theft in school will rise significantly, Students will become LAZY.

Basically in the technical sense it is good, but you will also have some side effects as a result of this

Funny eh?

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/11/2001 11:11:45 AM #
Introducing tech devices or computers into schools instead of supporting the children's other interests such as sports or other classes. It's great to give children the opportunity to use these devices at school especially if they can't at home. But we keep forgetting the human side of things in our society. The education system seems to fall apart daily in some areas of the world. But instead of taking care of ourselves, we spend the money on electronic devices for schools. I think we're all just jumping ahead of ourselves to have this high-tech lifestyle. There should be balance if we can try to have it in our lives. Greed and selfishness goes only so far, then we die. I'm a married, gadget & computer geek, and when I start having children I hope the schools get their act together by that time. I think it's great when schools can do it, but like the other individual who posted before, his kids have it worse. We'll all need to interview these schools soon, in order to know where their money goes. I don't think I would want my kids being forced to use only computers, etc. Anyway my 2 cents.


I.M. Anonymous @ 3/19/2001 8:28:31 PM #
This program seems absolutely fabulous. I am currently enrolled in a southern-California high school and bring my Handspring Visor to classes everyday. After getting acquainted with all of its features and how it applied to me, not to mention being stared at, it has become indispensable. I store every document on there, every assignment, and every note. I am, however, the only person in the whole school, faculty and student body alike (that I know of), who has one. This Visor has helped me very much, and I wish that many other students and teachers would realize that. Programs of this sort must contribute highly to the future of students.

RE: Awesome
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/26/2001 10:21:52 AM #
I'm only 13 and in 8th grade, and I used to be able to say I was the only one too. Now, my small school of 240 students (plus faculty) has people going in to history class with a palm and a keyboard setup to take notes! This is expanding quick and it is ESSENTIAL! Now, for open notebook tests we can use our palms if we took notes on them, and we don't have to worry about losing stuff. It's amazing how things have changed since 6th grade when I was the only one (with a completely out of date Palm pro) to now when I own two(m505 & m500, thank you very much Palm) and am currently head of the PDA sales and service at a small computer store. I'm happy to say this won't be the only school, we are currently working on several projects for schools (both private AND public) which look promising!

It's a good thing

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/25/2001 2:33:21 AM #
I live in Seattle Washington very close to Bellevue High School. I have been using a visor in school for a while now and I must say that it has been extremely helpful to me. I hope this program is a success and they expand it to the entire district so I wont be the only one in school with one. The potential for uses of an entire student body with visors is almost endless. As a student I see a lack of technology in schools and am constantly having to do all the work to expand the limited technology that is available. The entire process of education becomes streamlined as soon as these are introduced. Teachers can beam out assignments, receive assignments from the students and achieve a higher level of communication as a result. That, after all, is what education is all about, the communication of ideas, and the faster that can be done the more potential there is for learning. I see this only as a positive thing for students, and I hope that more students will have access to handhelds in the future.


RE: It's a good thing
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/24/2001 3:12:13 PM #
I have to agree--in a world where education and its technologies are changing so much from within. I believe that for them to take this steps for students is excellent and being a future educator I totally applaud the move. I believe that introducing visors and allowing them (the students) to apply them into their education is marvelous and it takes education to the next level. Our system just can't keep remaining in the mindset of having to stick with the same old same old--instead we need to open our minds and our hearts to take education on the up and up because if we don't we wont rise to the top. Its time that we get real and I applaud this district for doing so.

RE: It's a good thing
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/26/2001 10:30:18 AM #
And with the new Palm's expansion, think how easy that could be, just hand in a SD/MMC card and you're done! I love my palm and have convinced others at my school (including some of my teachers)to buy them too, infact me and my friend JJ are always in competition as to who can get the newest technology first (and, as a result, I am constantly several hundred $$ in debt with my mom). My school plans on buyuing palms for the science department with imagiprobes for research! (too bad i'm going to high school next year and won't get to use 'em . . . damnit!!!)




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