Palm may be
giving away $2.3 million in technology grants to US K-12 schools and colleges, but the company may make some serious money with the announcement that an independent school system outside of Winston-Salem, NC, became the first K-12 school in the U.S. to require the use of Palm handhelds in its high school and to pilot their use among students as young as first grade.
The school system is
Forsyth Country Day School. The announcement was made at this week’s National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Chicago. Assistant Headmaster Eric Peterson said that students returning to school in August will find “something extra” in their registration packets: a Palm IIIc handheld, portable keyboard, and a suite of software applications.
“Part of the appeal is the mobility of Palm handhelds, enabled and empowered by wireless technologies built into the product,” said Mike Lorion, vice president of education markets at Palm. “This is the first time a K-12 school in the United States has mandated the use of handheld technology in its school and made the commitment to use it in a range of academic and administrative areas.”
Forsyth Country Day School is working with Palm and third-party developers to choose an appropriate set of software applications to be used by students and faculty across the curriculum. In addition to issuing Palm handhelds to the high school students, classroom sets of Palms will be used in science and math classes in the middle and elementary grades. The school also plans to integrate handhelds into its new science, math and academic support centers.
“We’re a relatively small school with a very big idea, one that will have tremendous benefits to our 850 students and faculty,” Peterson said. “We see Palm handhelds as a ‘transforming technology’ for our students and for schools in general. For the first time, we have access to a device that can deliver on the fundamental promises of technology in the classroom.”
During the next two months, teachers at Forsyth Country Day School will participate in staff development sessions, led by Peterson, who’s been certified as a Palm Education Training Coordinator (PETC). Palm’s PETC program certifies local educators to deliver staff development curriculum on the use of Palm handhelds in education.
“There are a number of states adopting and using Palm technology,” Lorion said. “Florida is the largest so far; the state has purchased 3,800 Palm units to give to principals, superintendents, and master teachers.”
Florida schools and Forsyth Country Day School will have a growing number of Palm applications from which to choose, if the vendors showcasing their products in Palm’s NECC booth is any indication. On hand are:
Bachman Software is showing PrintBoy Deluxe, which can print spreadsheets, documents, appointments, addresses, to-do’s, memos, e-mail, clipboard items, or text from a Palm OS device.
Blue Nomad, the folks behind WordSmith, a combination word processor, enhanced memo pad, and document view for Palm devices.
Clarinet Systems, the company that makes the EthIR STAR ESB3000 system that uses patent pending technology to capitalize on standard OBEX and TCP/IP/PPP protocols to provide Palm OS users with faster network access.
Electronics for Imaging, whose eBeam system allows digital whiteboard notes to be transferred into a Palm device.
Excelsior Software, whose Gradebook 2 product is designed to let districts, schools, and educators capture and integrate student information.
Handmark, the company that makes Four.Zero, which provides Palm devices with a single interface to enter, store and manage coursework details.
ImagiWorks, the folks behind iMagiProbe, which combines a software application, sensor interface and a range of sensors with a Palm handheld to create a lab environment in which students can collect and visually analyze scientific data.
Kaplan, whose “To Go” series lets users prepare for a variety of standardized tests.
Scantron, the manufacturer of Classroom Wizard, an assessment system for assessing, scoring and analyzing students results in real-time.
The University of Michigan’s Center for Highly-Interactive Computing in Education, which has developed Picomap, a secondary education program that lets students create, share and explore concept maps on Palm devices.