Schools Test Handhelds in the Classroom

It turns out the University of South Dakota program to provide Palm handhelds to all first-year undergraduate students as well as first-year law and medical school students is far from alone. Harvard Medical School is setting up a handheld-related program for its students and so is Consolidated High School District 230 of Orland Park, Ill and East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. A high school in Seattle is running a test program, too.

Harvard Medical School is implementing a new system to allow 338 of its students mobile access to their class schedules, hospital case log notes, lecture notes with anatomy illustrations, course evaluations, exam calendars and last-minute announcements, and more with AvantGo. They also allow students to enter patient info in their Palm while walking around on rounds.

"Medical students, especially those in their third and fourth years, have to be very mobile, moving from hospital to hospital to see patients,'' said Dr. John Halamka, Associate Dean for Educational Technology. ''And the PDA can keep them on track and help reduce some of their anxieties so they can focus on learning.''

The school's faculty members are also part of the program and will use the same wireless network. They will need to learn how to combine their medical lecture notes written in Microsoft Word with their PowerPoint graphics and Excel spreadsheets into a form that Palm-wielding students can use.

Students won't have access to patient medical records on their handhelds though they will be able to take notes about patients. Harvard also won't post notices about late tuition payments or student grades.

Illinois School District 230 has started what it calls the "the largest educational deployment of handheld computers in the United States.'' About 1,700 students and 65 teachers use Palm handhelds for word-processing and to collect and analyze data for fitness, nutrition, and science classes.

By letting students work on assignments in an electronic format on portable devices, the school district has extended the boundaries of learning from the classroom to wherever and whenever the students wish to work on their assignments. They are even using Bachmann Software's PrintBoy to let the students wirelessly print via infrared their documents and spreadsheets.

"We hope our handheld computing program will be a model for school districts across this country," said Darrell Walery, District 230's director of technology. "Handheld computers enable our students to learn anytime and anyplace."

At East Carolina University, about 100 students already use Visors in some of their classes. The students are told to regard their handhelds as their main computers for word processing, Internet access, and saving critical information like class assignments.

Students are given Springboard modems, MultiMail Pro, ProxiNet ProxiWeb, WordSmith and other applications. "We're trying to force real use of the devices,'' says Dave Watkins, an ECU administrator.

ECU is even considering using Xircom SpringPort 802.11b wireless Springboards to connect to the campus' Ethernet network.

Earlier this year, Ballard High in Seattle made news with its program to introduce Visors into the classroom. Students are using 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.

Palm Inc. is actively encouraging studies on effective use of handhelds in the classroom. The Palm Education Pioneers program is awarding grants of Palm handhelds to K-12 teachers and their students, which will let the teachers incorporate Palms into their lessons and give them to every student in their class. More than 100 classrooms nationally will participate in the program.

They have already announced the winners of the first round of grants. Students will be using Palms to study marine science, economics, astronomy, chemistry, algebra, ecology and much more.

The Education@Palm site has lots of information for teachers and administrators who are looking to integrate handhelds into their classrooms.

Thanks to Andrew Robertson for the tip. - Ed

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Good to see!

James Chapman @ 5/13/2001 11:41:39 PM #
It is excellent to see this happening. I work in I.T. in Australia, and I wish they had done this when I went to school.


Amanda @ 5/14/2001 1:54:02 PM #
Wow. I am very happy to see that handhelds are becoming a normal thing in many schools. I find that handhelds have been almost a necessary item in my highschool and now college education

Wrong place, wrong time

PalmPlan @ 5/15/2001 5:27:23 AM #
Geez, guess I was born at the wrong place, wrong time! It's really good to see this happening as it can only mean better quality handhelds in the future!


unkn0wn @ 5/15/2001 1:13:49 PM #
I think that giving students a visor, I believe that it will aid in the learning process.

This is an important step

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/15/2001 7:07:02 PM #
Being a reseller, this helps very much in selling to area schools. Proving it has worked will make the local schools more willing to follow suit! I'm especially excited that the high school I'm going to start going to next year is looking at buying these things!!! I can't wait for Palm's 3 year educational strategy to play out. This is a good market, and somebody needs to start eating up the sales


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jim Feng @ 5/16/2001 6:17:29 PM #
From this story, i'm thinking if we can build something similiar to atm machine or gas station in order to make pda users sync their pda without bothering slow and costly wireless cnx.

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wish we used palm on my school

mikkel @ 5/17/2001 2:24:16 PM #
I think it is a good idea to use palm handhelds on schools, it teach the students to use modern technology and there can make there homework in a bus, airplane or of course at home. I wish we used palms on my school.
-mikkel,12 years old, copenhagen-

It's a good idea!

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/23/2001 6:50:46 PM #
I'm a college student, & I cannot stress enough how important my visor is. When doing a term paper, I write all the content on my visor, and then at home, I cut and paste the memo file to microsoft word or apple works and format it and walla I have a term paper. The next best thing to do with my visor in class is to whip it out and play a couple of games when the professor starts sounding like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. I would highly recommend a handheld for school. -happy palming! ;-)


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