From Zero to Handhelds

This session was about how to implement handhelds in schools that have never thought of them before. Lynn Lair & Rob DeLilli from Wheelerville Union Free School a rural school in Upstate New York. Their introduction to handhelds was through the Magellan Foundation’s NY Talks Program several years ago.

They started with this question: How can handhelds be used by teachers and students? Seeking and landing a $35,000 grant from a state Senator they then brought in an expert to create a shopping list and sought out open-minded teachers.

What Worked:

  • Getting every teacher a handheld (~25 teachers)
  • Offering training
  • Provide teachers to play (teachers used them over the summer)
  • Modeling practical uses for handhelds (Rob modeled appropriate uses as an administrator as well as used them to communicate with teachers about pre-observation notes)
  • “Advertising” to Students and Parents
  • Gradual deployment to students
  • School Board support
  • Patience, Low pressure, Encouragement, Technical support & Financial commitment

What Didn’t:

  • Software glitch – Mac OS9 conflicts – (Mobilemind-ed Note: Be careful and read the hardware, software and networking requirements before purchasing)
  • Having full-time IT staff
  • Not enough training

This a example of another motivated administrator that gets it and is acting to get things going. Exposing students and teachers to handheld technology is important and to share experiences using handhelds. Students want and need to be plugged-in so accessibility to technology for students is very important. Wheelerville schools have experienced the bumps and successes and analyzed what can be done better and are moving forward with additional deployment, more training, software updates as well as adding wireless connectivity. It will be interesting to see how this implementation project grows within the schools as well as in neighboring schools as well as how they will sustain the project in the future.

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