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Faculty & staff 'summer camp' offers edVentures for success: strong and targeted staff support is the common denominator for successful handheld implementations.

Handheld computers have tremendous potential for integrating technology across the curriculum, improving personal productivity, and sparking higher motivation by staff and students. To unlock this potential, schools and districts find that targeted professional development is key.

Training a district's professionals about handhelds accelerates adoption and streamlines the implementation process. Further, it significantly broadens the types of things faculty and staff do with their handhelds right from the start. Teachers are far more likely to explore its instructional applications with students, for example, trying new approaches that exploit the handheld's technology. They may also expect more from their students, in terms of time management and homework completion. Regardless, professional development provides a solid platform of knowledge about handhelds upon which teachers of administrators can then build to suit their needs.

To support faculty and staff at K-12 schools, palmOne facilitates a broad array of professional development opportunities. These include a weeklong, intensive summer camp--edVentures--as well as custom workshops delivered by palmOne Education Training Providers (PETPs). To create locally based experts in handheld technology, districts can opt for the PETC (palmOne Education Training Coordinator) program, just as Los Angeles County is doing in California. And new in January 2005, any handheld user can access Web-based palmOne Online Basics Training.

Whether a district turns to handhelds to boost administrators' efficiency, simplify teachers' management and data-gathering tasks, or increase student achievement and motivation, professional development makes all the difference, according to users and IT experts. palmOne simplifies the process with an array of options for individuals and groups.

Get immersed in an "edVenture"

Developed by InRESONANCE, a PETP in Northampton, MA, edVentures might be the ultimate "handheld immersion" experience. This week-long summer camp places teachers and administrators in a problem-based, technology-rich environment and provides them with the tools and expertise to develop meaningful solutions.

The camp, located in the heart of Civil War country in Mercersburg, PA, takes advantage of its location. Accordingly, edVentures transports educators to the battleground to solve a modern-day dilemma. Armed with palmOne handhelds, digital cameras and software, educators use these 21st century tools to answer two challenging questions: 1) What was the significance of the nearby Antietam battle? And (2) how does technology support teaching and learning?

These questions place educators in the role of learners, requiring them to use handhelds in context. They download assignments, wirelessly beam ideas to each other, and organize their tasks with ThoughtManager for Education. Taking pictures with the palmOne Zire72's camera, for example, has proved both popular and broadly useful for school purposes.

Debbie Rutherford, associate head of school at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, calls edVentures "one of the most energizing and incredible learning experiences I've ever had." She notes that the appeal lies in an emphasis on practicality, with camp staff right there to help with any questions. "The approach is interactive and meaningful," Rutherford says, "and the format gives educators enough time to really learn how to use a handheld."

Peggy Long, a fifth-grade teacher in Manatee County, FL, says her experience with edVentures has brought positive benefits, large and small. For example, she now uses her handheld on a daily basis--to create lesson plans, to organize student data, and to facilitate cooperative activities among the fifth-grade teaching team at her school. These improvements are adding up to yield positive long-term results.

"Anything that helps me become more efficient helps the kids," says Long. Further, the "high-tech, high-context" learning environment modeled by the training is a compelling one, and it sparked the teacher in her. Indeed, edVentures prompted Long and her principal to pursue funding to purchase class sets of palmOne handhelds for the school's fifth-grade students.

At Mercersburg Academy, administrator Rutherford relies on a keyboard-equipped palmOne handheld to simplify her job and stay on top of large quantities of data. In addition, her multifaceted understanding of the technology helps her more thoroughly support the school's teachers and facilitate their rich use of handhelds in the classroom. "The edVentures experience is transforming," says Rutherford. "I'm using my handheld more often and in much deeper ways."

The PETP option: customizable, convenient, comprehensive

Another arrow in the professional development quiver is the palmOne Education Training Provider (PETP) option. Made up of former educators, with years of educationally oriented training expertise under their belts, these authorized third-party trainers are well-equipped to guide K-12 administrators and teachers through the basics of palmOne handheld operation, school implementation strategies, curriculum applications, and related handheld topics. More than a dozen PETPs are scattered across the nation (see accompanying sidebar on this page).

Districts can collaborate with a PETP to build a training solution that best meets their specific needs, including small-group workshops or large-group instruction. Programs can be delivered at a school site, at a PETP's facility, and even online.

Web Sites Focus on Handhelds

Hub for palmOne education resources www.palmOne.com/us/education

Current workshops, Webinars, and more www.palmOne.com/us/education/programs

Looking for a PETP? www.palmOne.com/us/education/programs/regional

Using a palmOne handheld with a Macintosh www.palmOne.com/us/macintosh

101 Educational Uses for a palmOne Handheld www.k12handhelds.com/101list

palmOne Handheld Computers in Education--compiled by an educator featuring tools, applications and how-tos www.rainbowtech.org/Palm/index.html

Find (or start) a PUG (Palm User Group) http://usergroups.palmsource.com/findapug.php

The author is a freelance writer based in Ashland, WI.
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Title Annotation:Professional Development
Author:Fratt, Lisa
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:895
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