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Myth: Free Palm Pilots
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Fact:  There is no plan to provide Palm Pilots to high school students, and there never has been.  A small number of hand-held computers was bought in order to evaluate how students might use them to measurably increase learning.  Funds set aside for Technology in the Capital Improvement Budget were used for a demonstration project using hand-held computers ($177 each) for 250 9th grade students out of 4,500 high school students last school year.  The use of technology is moving from stand-alone PCs (costing $1,000 and worth $0 in five years) to putting handheld computers into the hand of students. 


This is simply the direction of technology today.  Other districts, after careful evaluation, are adopting hand-held computers to replace certain calculators.  Here are some of the benefits other districts have found that these tools provide:

It is important to note that any use of technology can only be considered "effective" if it supports identified learning outcomes, both at the classroom and district level. The following list includes ways that students and teachers can use the hand-held computers as a learning tool.


        Scientific Probes




        Assignment Book

        Quiz Machine

        Concept Mapping Tool

        Web Resource

        Means of sharing ideas and collaborating

        Periodic Table

        Graphing Calculator

        Word Processor


        Camera Interface

        Drawing & Animation tool


The above list of uses are suitable for classroom as well as on field trips. The hand-held computer was never intended to be a stand alone tool, rather it is best used with other technologies, e.g., full-sized computers, multi-media tools, etc. and software.


These hand-held computers are continuing to be used for special projects by the students in the following ways:


  • At South, the SLC faculty are continuing to use them in their classes. New faculty will receive PD on them this fall.  There is a research project set up to look at the effect that Palms, beaming, portable keyboards, Picomap (a free concept mapper), and Wordsmith (a word processing application for Palm that interfaces with MS Word) have on the writing process. The hypothesis is that students will be more willing to edit their work using these tools and that they will be more willing to develop their thoughts when writing. This is a year long research project and results will be reported in late spring. All Palms have installed on them the following : Picomap, a concept mapping tool; Sketchy, an animation tool that can be used to help students understand processes, Wordsmith, Flingit, a web page capture tool that stores web pages on the Palm, and 4.0 student, a classroom management tool that allows students to keep track of class assignments and other info. Students and teachers can also use the Palm's infrared eye to beam anything on their Palms to other students.
  • A classroom set of 15 Palms have been distributed to all the high schools where they will be used with probeware in science classes. The probes were purchased this summer and 9 science teachers took 3 days of professional development to learn how to use Palms/probeware/project-based learning. They will use Palms at various times this year.
  • There is a traveling set of 10 Palms and probeware that can be used for science. This set has already been used at Heritage Middle School and there are plans to use them at Fouse, Alcott, and perhaps Hawthorne elementaries for building projects this year.
  • There is also a traveling set of 27 Palms equipped with the software described in item 1 above for use by anybody. The idea is to get them into the hands of teachers who will use them.


For a video demonstration of how effectively palm-sized computers can be used in
education, visit this link:


Westerville Voters On Target for Education