CSE News and Announcements

Oct 17, 2002
Education Is Put In Hands of Teenagers    Bookmark and Share
October 16, 2002 IN THE CLASSROOM Education Is Put in Hands of Teenagers Youths in Palmdale are given Palm Pilots to help with assignments. But some researchers say gadgets won't improve student performance.

By David Pierson, Times Staff Writer

Zera Sanford holds her education in the palm of her hand--with a Palm Pilot. As part of a technology experiment, Highland High School in Palmdale gave her and 31 other students hand-held computers to keep track of homework, download research material and complete classroom assignments. They are part of a growing national trend at high schools to use similar devices, the size of a calculator with a 2 1/2 inch-by-2 inch screen.

With a pencil-sized pointer, users can write on the screen or tap on it to open programs and issue commands. At close range, messages can be beamed from one hand-held computer to the next, much like a wireless pager. The computers can store textbooks, even though some say the screens are too small to read. "It's not just an expensive notebook," Sanford said while beaming a message to a friend. "I don't see why anybody would pass the opportunity to use one of these."

School spending on hand-held computers, whether Palm Pilots, Handsprings or other brands, is predicted to increase from $5 million during the 2000-01 school year to $310 million by 2005-06, according to a study by International Data Corp., a market research company. Hand-held computers cost as little as $99 and are considered a less fussy option to lap-tops, which generally cost more than $1,000. Highland's hand-held program cost $4,000 for 35 devices and was paid for by the Antelope Valley Union High School District's educational technology office. "The way you get productivity out of technology is when it's ubiquitous," said Elliot Soloway, a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who has developed educational software for the hand-held computers. "Education changed when every kid was given a paper book," he said. "Education will change again when every kid has a computer, and the only way to do that is with a hand-held computer" because of its low cost.

At Highland High, the Palm Pilots are being tested on students in Spanish teacher Jim Trumps' class. The instructor has the technological savvy and passion that experts say is essential to getting new computer programs up and running. Trumps, who pitched the hand-held computer idea to the school district, designed his own Web site where students can check their grades and download assignments. "The problem with lap-tops is students have to carry them from class to class and they already have 70 pounds of books ... ," Trumps said. "But kids don't mind holding Palm Pilots. You can do most of the work on a hand-held that you would do on a lap-top." The Antelope Valley district has had a lap-top program for five years. Currently, 600 of the district's 20,000 students carry lap-tops they own or borrow from the schools. Kent Tamsen, director of educational technology, said the Palm Pilots might replace lap-tops, but a study first must determine the effects both technologies have on student achievement.

In the four weeks since Trumps distributed the hand-held computers for students to keep for the school year, he's had them draw a comic strip on the device with dialogue in Spanish. He's beamed questions and answers for quizzes. And every day the children plug their Palm Pilots to a platform connected to a desk-top computer that downloads media Web sites and study guides. "I've been reading a lot more," said 14-year-old Danielle Edwards. "When I'm bored, I study my Spanish vocabulary [on the Palm Pilot]. I also never used to check the news and weather, but now I do it all the time."

But some researchers say the technology is doomed to disappoint because not enough teachers will be properly trained to use the devices. They warn that some schools have spent lavishly on technology in the past -- such as on educational television -- without ever showing higher achievement. Teachers "are hardly given any technical assistance and professional help to integrate the technology into daily classes," said Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University and author of "Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom." Educational psychologist Jane M. Healy , the author of "Failure to Connect--How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds," questioned whether the hand-helds would improve children's behavior. She said hiring qualified teachers and reinvigorating marginalized programs such as the arts and athletics are "far more important than an electronic toy." Palm Inc., which manufactures the devices used by Trumps' class, says it holds 82% of the education market. Since 2000, the Milpitas, Calif.-based company has given out $2.3 million worth of the equipment to learn more about how to market the product. Though not at Highland, the hand-held computers have been given to schools in Berkeley and Lennox, Calif., as well as to schools in New Jersey, West Virginia and Nebraska. Mike Lorion, vice president of education at the company, said teachers can use the Palm Pilot to see what class a student wandering the hallways should be in. Teachers can follow text displayed on a hand-held being read aloud by a student and highlight words that were mispronounced. Instantly, the child has a note of what needs improvement.

However, Bob Moore, vice chairman of the Consortium of School Networking, a Washington, D.C., organization that promotes computer technology in schools, thinks the computer that works best for students will have to be a happy medium between a hand-held and a lap-top. "It's a promising technology," he said of hand-helds. "The one thing I'm concerned with is the small screen. How usable is it? It's good for calendars and contacts, but how useful is it for kids and teachers?" Predictably, students have found their own uses for the devices. Though this has not happened in Trumps' classroom, stories abound about students elsewhere downloading software that enables them to switch on and off televisions and power VCRs to the dismay of unsuspecting teachers. They download games such as "Dope Wars," a strategy game in which the player must outsell computer opponents in make-believe drugs. Trumps warns his students that if he finds one of them playing games in his or another teacher's class, he'll take the device away. The computers also have created a social fabric. One of Trumps' first assignments was for the class to exchange phone numbers. Students who never spoke to each other before now call each other several times a week to gossip and talk about schoolwork. "We're more organized," said 14-year-old Clarrisa Camacho. "We're learning new stuff while communicating with each other."    [More Info]
EECS News by Topic
EECS News by Faculty Name
CSE in the News 
04/17/14 Scientific American: Heartbleed Software Snafu: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
04/17/14 New York Times: Study Finds No Evidence of Heartbleed Attacks Before the Bug Was E...
04/15/14 Michigan Daily: Internet security flaw left University sites vulnerable
04/15/14 ARS Technica: Researchers find thousands of potential targets for Heartbleed OpenS...
04/15/14 Bloomberg: Hacker From China Wastes Little Time in Exploiting Heartbleed
04/15/14 Bloomberg: Heartbleed Hackers Steal Encryption Keys in Threat Test

CSE Research News 
04/17/14 Halderman and Lafortune Join TerraSwarm Research Center
04/07/14 Michael Lewis says the market is rigged. But his Flash Boys rigged themselves.
04/01/14 Researchers Win Best Paper Award at ISPASS 2014
04/01/14 Technological Singularity Passes, Unnoticed Until Now
03/05/14 Michael Wellman Recognized with ACM/SIGAI Autonomous Agents Research Award
02/21/14 New Center Develops Technologies to Help Youths with Disabilities

CSE News 
03/26/14 CSE Connects at SXSW 2014
03/24/14 Prospective Grad Students Visit, Learn About CSE
03/13/14 CSE Connects at Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing
02/03/14 Karem Sakallah Continues Commitment to Qatar Computing Research Institute
01/30/14 State Farm Gift Supports Student Projects Lab
01/24/14 Fawwaz Ulaby to Deliver Henry Russel Lectureship

CSE Faculty and Staff Awards 
04/03/14 Noble and Wilson Named as Learning Analytics Fellows
03/26/14 Kevin Fu Selected for World Economic Forum Young Scientist Award
02/25/14 Narayanasamy and Olson Named Morris Wellman Faculty Development Professors
02/07/14 Daniel Atkins Elected to National Academy of Engineering
01/24/14 2014 EECS Outstanding Achievement Awards
01/23/14 Four CSE Faculty Selected for College of Engineering Awards

CSE Student News and Awards 
04/16/14 SWE Hosts G.R.E.A.T. Day for Girls
04/11/14 Hands-On Robotics (video)
04/08/14 Forest Agostinelli Selected for NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
04/08/14 Branden Ghena Selected for NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
04/08/14 Elizabeth Mamantov Selected for NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
04/08/14 Meghan Clark Selected for NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

CSE Alumni News 
03/07/14 Alumni Spotlight-Dawson Yee: Kinect-ing Xbox to the World
03/03/14 CSE Alum Dongyoon Lee Selected for ProQuest Dissertation Award
12/20/13 Hector J. Garcia Selected for Bouchet Graduate Honor Society
11/12/13 CSE Alumna Mona Attariyan Selected for Ritchie Disseration Award
07/23/13 Tony Fadell: From Apple to Nest Labs, Always a Designer
06/26/13 Computer Engineering Alum Marius Eriksen Featured in Wired

CSE Course Announcements 
04/09/14 Fall 2014: Hands-On Robotics
04/03/14 Fall 2014: EECS 598-002 Power Semiconductor Devices
04/03/14 Fall 2014: EECS 598-001 Analysis of Electric Power Distribution Systems and Loads
03/20/14 Fall 2014: Applied matrix algorithms for signal processing, data analysis and mach...
11/26/13 Winter 2014: EECS 498-003 Multidisciplinary Capstone (MDE) Design Pilot
11/06/13 Winter 2014: EECS 598-007 Infrastructure for Vehicle Electrification

Add News Item     Update News Items