Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Handhelds Go to School (Wired News)

Associated Press

OLATHE, Kansas -- Aesop's fables came beaming across the classroom and landed in Eva Hernandez's Palm handheld. On the bottom floor of Ridgeview Elementary School, she sat scrolling, using her stylus to navigate through "The Flies and the Honeypot."

"Hmmm," said the 12-year-old. "I think I can animate the flies."

Eva, a sixth grader, is part of a new generation of kids using handhelds to read, write, do math, take pictures of the human eye or research Egyptian hieroglyphics -- all as a regular part of their curriculum.

As school districts scout ways to engage students already accustomed to instant messaging and interactive video games, they're buying up the kind of tech tools once reserved for jet-setting corporate executives.

Educational sales of personal digital assistants, laptop computers and handheld remote controls called "clickers" are ballooning nationwide. Last year, a survey by Quality Education Data found that 28 percent of U.S. school districts offered handhelds for student and teacher use. One of every four computers purchased by schools was a laptop.

One of the frontrunners was Yankton High School in South Dakota, which adopted Palm handhelds in 2001 and found they improved students' grades.

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