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Summer school: during an intensive week-long training session, educators learn how a handheld can serve as a springboard to change their schools and smooth their lives.

It takes several factors to successfully integrate handhelds into K-12 education today. Sure, educators need vision and leadership, but the hardest requirement to meet might be finding enough time to consider these changes during a frenetic school year.

For that reason, inRESONANCE has found summer to be a convenient time for educators to investigate palmOne handheld technology and refine technology usage plans. This Massachusetts firm's cornerstone professional development offering is edVentures in Technology: a week-long summer training that immerses educators in handheld, laptop and desktop technologies. Now in its fifth year, this program supplies the time, space and tools for educators to develop a deep understanding of how handhelds fit in a technology continuum.

edVentures at a Glance

The program offers a choice of focus in either curriculum of leadership. Curriculum focuses on tools and models of integration; this suits teachers, technology coordinators and administrators at all levels of technology competence. Leadership teaches skills, too, but addresses larger issues involving vision, implementation and support; this is geared for administrators and educators in leadership positions.

Both strands are led by experienced instructors. "The edVentures staff includes some of the best technology integrators in the country. They aren't teaching ideas they learned from a book. They're teaching handheld technology because they've lived it," says Chris Carey, instructional technology resource teacher with Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Fla.

The hands-on structure has participants explore a variety of hardware and software applications in different integration scenarios. "edVentures provides educators ample opportunity to work with new technology in depth. The six-day program helps them put tools in context of the classroom of school," says Susan McAllister, director of professional development for inRESONANCE.

Getting away from home is a plus too. "The camp format really works. You're in an isolated environment and other distractions aren't factors. Teachers gain concentrated time to absorb ideas," says Carey.

Each day at edVentures begins with a large-group discussion or presentation of a broad-based technology theme. Then educators break out into smaller, skill-building sessions to work on mastering the nuances of everything from digital-image manipulation to productivity tools. Many sessions offer both basic and advanced versions to meet the needs of all educators.

Sequential training for palmOne handhelds focuses on both built-in applications and third-party programs. In the evening, participants unwind and experiment with handheld accessories such as digital cameras, MP3 players and MARGI Systems' Presenter-to-Go to link handhelds and projectors.

Optionally, campers put their newfound skills to practice and do a final technology project. For example, some ambitious educators used Kinoma Producer to format an iMovie for showing on their handheld. Others created eBooks or delivered PowerPoint presentations with their handhelds. All of the projects provide educators with a hands-on understanding of how the technology can be used by students or in delivering lessons. McAllister explains, "This type of experiential learning allows adults to cement new strategies, pedagogies and ideas."

A Solid Foundation

Rick Copp, superintendent of Motley County ISD in Matador, Texas, reports that the breakout sessions accelerated his learning and built a solid foundation for his continued technology use. Prior to attending the training, Copp had neglected his handheld computer. Daily training sessions opened his eyes. "Now I use it on a daily basis for my calendar and date book. I also use it for note taking at meetings. My handheld has helped my organization considerably."

Transforming a techno-phobe like Copp into a technology evangelist has other benefits. Copp attended edVentures with his district's technology coordinator and a group of administrators from the Rolling Plains Educational Technology Consortium. Copp and the technology coordinator are using their newfound skills to provide mini-courses for their district's teachers and administrators.

The week-long immersion format provided the building blocks for successful technology integration and application throughout the seven-district consortium, says Cathy Morton, program coordinator for the consortium. The districts use handhelds as part of a comprehensive technology platform that includes laptops, desktops, an interactire video network and a server for online courses and information sharing. Administrators and technologists share files and maintain records via the handhelds. Teachers rely on them for reading assessments.

The Rolling Plains group gained technology expertise and time for planning and reflection. "By the end of the week the administrators were asking how they could extend the experience for teachers," says Morton. Thus, edVentures is serving as a model for a three-day summer professional development program featuring an overview of handheld usage, ITV training, practice in technology proficiencies and integration for regional teachers in all seven districts.

Take Home the Tools

Learning from nationally acclaimed experts and interacting with kindred educators from across the country partially explains the camp's long-term impact. But participants also leave edVentures with a palmOne handheld computer, plus free and discounted products and software from vendors.

Last summer's goodies for handhelds included Bachmann's PrintBoy, TealPaint by TealPoint, and Hands High's ThoughtManager for Education.

Carey admits, "When you first look at the cost of edVentures, it seems expensive. But when you look it everything you get, it's quite a bargain. The all-inclusive price really helped me sell it to the district."

Ultimately, professional development goes far beyond numbers. Ideally, it's about giving people new tools, new colleagues and some reflective time so they can work smarter and better. "This is a beneficial way to do professional development," Copp says of the edVentures experience.

Lisa Fratt is a freelance writer based in Ashland, Wisc.

Resources:

inRESONANCE: www.inresonance.com/pd/index.html

palmOne Education Training: www. palmone.com/us/education/programs/

Bachmann Software & Services: www.bachmannsoftware.com

eBooks-Palm Digital Media: www.palmdigitalmedia.com

Hands High Software: www.handshigh.com

MARGI Systems: www.margi.com

TealPoint Software: www.tealpoiny.com
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Title Annotation:Training
Author:Fratt, Lisa
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:944
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