The quicker Oklahoma schools jump into the new wave of personal
computing, the more benefits the state will reap, according to U.S.
Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla.
A three-year pilot program being implemented at Mayfield Middle
School in the Putnam City School District takes a big step in that
The PALS (Personal Access = Learning Success) project was funded
through the STAR schools grant from the U.S. Department of Education
last fall at Istook's request. The $250,000 grant represents a
partnership between Putnam City Schools and the Oklahoma State
Department of Education to bring hand-held computing technology to
teaching and learning.
Before the program was implemented at Mayfield, Istook organized
a group of education leaders, including State Superintendent of
Schools Sandy Garrett, to tour an Illinois school district where
students and teachers use personal hand-held computers for their
"Soon every school will have this technology, but those who jump
in first will enjoy the most benefits. I believe Oklahoma can lead
the way. It's the quickest and least expensive way to put computer
technology in the hands of every single student," Istook said. "It
means students better prepared for high-paying work, businesses
attracted to a place on the cutting edge of technology, and an
improved standard of living for all."
Earlier this month, Mayfield's eighth-grade teachers and staff
received the first shipment of Palm m505s. Mayfield science teachers
Katy Leffel and Kristina Hebertson are spearheading the school's
initial training and implementation of the Palms, according to Linda
Parsons, technology curriculum integration specialist for the Putnam
City School District.
Student distribution is planned sometime after mid-March when
teachers and staff attend an all-day seminar on ways to integrate
the devices into the curriculum by Mike Curtis, a member of the
education department at the University of Michigan and author of a
soon-to-be-published textbook on hand-held computers in the
"Teachers, students and administrators will use the hand-held
computers in numerous ways to enrich their learning experience such
as writing and taking notes, gathering and analyzing scientific
data, collaborating and communicating and conducting authentic
research," Parsons said.
The hand-held technology also offers many cost-saving
possibilities such as e-textbooks that can be updated easily without
expensive printing and shipping, Istook said. Currently, he said,
Oklahoma Public Schools have a ratio of 6-to-1 students to
"The potential is so enormous that it can't be overstated. It's
not just the advantage of size," Istook said. "We need our kids to
have the computer skills they need in today's world. There is an
enormous difference between sharing a desktop computer for one class
period and having access to a hand-held computer 24 hours a day. …