Superintendents Plunge into the Handheld World

Article excerpt

Imagine the thrill of being a child on Christmas Day and finally getting the bike that you wished for. Now, couple that enthusiasm with the realization that you would have to put the whole thing together. By yourself.

That feeling, in a modified form, faced 21 district superintendents and other staff in Montgomery County, near Philadelphia, when they gathered in October.

Each person at the session had just gotten a new Palm IIIxe. While everyone gathered realized the tools have the chance to improve the way they manage their personal information and run the business of education in their districts, the spector of learning how to use the handheld computers was palpable.

The session included superintendents and intermediate unit supervisors. Pennsylvania intermediate units are part of the governmental structure of the state's public education. The Montgomery County intermediate unit serves 22 districts with more than 99,000 students.

Organizationally, these units are located in between the state education agency and the local school districts. These regional officials provide services to local school districts to help the local districts operate more effectively.

Giving out the Palm IIIxe's was the brainchild of Dennis Harken, the unit supervisor executive director, and Holly Jobe, the supervisor's director. Both believe technology leadership begins at the top and say it is important that all superintendents understand the potential of technology to help them run the business of education. It is equally important that those superintendents lead by example. …