Another Enlightened School

Kid holding a Palm handheld displaying the Planet 5th logoLast Saturday, I wrote about how the University of South Dakota is distributing Palm handhelds to every member of the student population. I think people can get their minds around how incredible it is for college students to be using these, but how about fifth graders?

Tony Vincent, a teacher at Willowdale Elementary School of Omaha, Nebraska, is using handhelds in every subject he teaches – math, spelling, science, social studies, and more. Each student is issued their own personal handheld, which they use to read virtual handouts and web sites, write papers and interactive fiction, and figure out strategies to solve puzzle games.

The best part about the Learning in Hand curriculum for open-source geeks like myself is that not only are the techniques he uses well documented on his site, but also that most of the programs installed in the handhelds are free for the download. Teachers, pay attention – this could be your classroom!

While it might be fun to play with PDAs all day long in school, Vincent is quick to point out that while the Palm is often the best learning tool, “other times it’s good, old fashioned paper!”

Planet 5th‘s web site is on hiatus for the summer, but you can read the pages from the 2002-2003 school year by clicking here.

(Photo courtesy Tony Vincent.)

UPDATE 5/27 8:42 PM – Bene Diction points out via comment that fellow blogger Christopher Wright is also doing this with his third graders. Incredible.

An Enlightened School

The University of South Dakota is the first college campus in the United States to hand out Palm handheld computers to every student. This is a very cool thing. Students will be able to keep track of homework, read many handouts without ever printing them on paper, and check e-mail completely through their Palms. Heck, they can even HotSync at IR stations built into the walls all over campus.

I’ve been a fan of Palm organizers since I bought a IIIxe. It lasted about two years before I dropped it and the screen smashed into smithereens.

Right now, my trusty m515 is charging on its cradle. It goes with me almost everywhere I go. On it is my homework, appointments, games, Bible, and more. During my free time, I’m working on getting it set up for offline blogging – more on this when it’s finished.

Anyway, Palm handhelds rock. They eat up less memory and less batteries than their Pocket PC rivals, and they’re a lot more intuitive to use. One place where Pocket PCs have a head-start is Wi-Fi access. This will soon change.

I’ve been a strong advocate for getting a Palm into the hands of every student that can read. It’s better for high school and college students, but I think our increasingly technology-oriented children will get the hang of it. If nothing else, a Palm campus will help prevent back injuries. Of course, I see the potential for much, much better uses as well.

(Original link via the University of Washington AccessIT page, which is itself an interesting read.)