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PETCs are spreading the word in L.A.: Los Angeles takes handheld training to a new level--countywide and to all of its public and private K-12 schools.

THROUGHOUT LOS ANGELES COUNTY, superintendents, teachers, students and parents are learning about palmOne handhelds. This massive undertaking is made possible by a simple yet powerful seed--the palmOne Education Training Coordinator (PETC) program. The PETC program is designed to "spread the word" throughout a region or district on how to best use handhelds in education. Its three-day course certifies participants as qualified to provide training on basic palmOne handheld skills and K-12 curriculum integration.

In the fall of 2002, Los Angeles County got its handheld ball rolling and sent five Technology Services consultants to palmOne's train-the-trainer PETC program. Raymond Chavez, director of Instructional Technology Outreach at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), explains, "We saw this as an opportunity to integrate palmOne training with other programs." For example, California's AB75 program, which trains administrators in instructional technology, was a natural fit.

Chavez's PETC team provided public school administrators with extensive handheld training. Administrators learned how to use a palmOne handheld to improve their professional performance, increase their productivity, and to perform on-the-spot data access and collection. Funding from the Gates Foundation allowed the county to deliver the same training to administrators at private schools as well.

To further expand the program throughout this county's K-12 educational community, Chavez's office sought input from the region's 80 districts. The result: PALs (palmOne Academic Leaders), a two-part initiative of Trainer PALs and Schools PALs.

Trainer PALs and School PALs

LACOE's Instructional Technology Outreach staff extended its PETC team with 15 additional educators that represented in microcosm "the diversity of the county," says Chavez. These newly ordained PETC Trainer PALs also committed to two additional days of training on curriculum-integration with handhelds. Now, in return, these 15 master trainers deliver customized professional development on handhelds to sites in their region. For example, if a school requests a palmOne science integration program, a locally based Trainer PAL combines handheld training with science probeware training to connect the dots and meet site-specific needs.

School PALs focus on classroom integration. To kick off the effort, the Instructional Technology Outreach office stirred the pot with a bit of competition, soliciting proposals from fourth- through sixth-grade classrooms ready to jump on the handheld bandwagon. Initially, 15 county schools were designated as School PALs and received a class set of 33 palmOne handhelds to share between two classrooms.

"Our goal with School PALs is to encourage teachers to seek training and more fully understand the impact of handhelds on teaching and learning," Chavez explains.

School PALs enables students to use a handheld for an extended period of time, making it a truly personal tool. Notably, part of the program mandates that teachers provide personalized feedback on assignments, beaming them to the student's handheld to be carried home and shared with parents. The Instructional Technology Outreach team promotes robust home-school connection by inviting parents to training sessions on the palmOne handhelds.

"This is a very comprehensive program designed to maximize training opportunities on handhelds for teachers and administrators across the county," summarizes Chavez. Along the way, LACOE has received a lot of support from palmOne and from K12 Handhelds, Inc., a PETP in Long Beach, he adds. palmOne's PETC program provides a wealth of professional development materials. And K12 Handhelds is delivering training, helping with parent meetings, and providing valuable feedback on the effort.

The result is a successful and growing handheld-integration initiative now engaging the county's entire K-12 educational community.
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Title Annotation:Professional Development
Author:Fratt, Lisa
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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