September 2001
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Students Use Palm Pilots
By: Jacqueline Friesen, Senior 4 student, Garden Valley Collegiate, Winkler MB

At Garden Valley Collegiate it is now time to put away the schedule books and calendars. Selected students at Garden Valley have the option of doing their work on small specialized computers, Palm IIIc’s.

After a year of careful planning and persuading, the Palm Pilot Project is underway at Garden Valley Collegiate. Heading up the project are GVC teachers Dave Hildebrand and Allan Doherty in cooperation with Palm Canada Inc., Insight Enterprises Inc., and Media-X Inc.

Two classes are involved in the Palm Pilot Project, a Senior 4 French class and a Senior 4 Business Education class. As of yet no guidelines or rules have been setup for the students. “We want the students to decide, or to show us, or to experiment with us,” Mr. Doherty states.

According to Mr. Doherty, Garden Valley may be one of the first schools in Canada to perform such an experiment. Since GVC is a part of the Network of Innovative Schools it comes as no surprise to students and staff that Garden Valley was chosen for such an innovative project. “We like to try to get on the leading edge of things,” explains Lori Neufeld, the French teacher at GVC.

Business Education student Jenessa Rempel said she was “completely psyched” when she received a Palm. Rempel admits, “We haven’t really used it a whole lot yet,” but her hopes are high. “I don’t know what the thing’s all capable of doing, but a whole lot more (than we’re doing now).”

Currently the students are using the Palm Pilots inside the classroom for many different purposes. These include beaming assignments and programs, “hot-syncing” and entering data. Outside of class, though, students use the Palm as a schedule book and Gameboy.

These $479.00 Palm Pilots are much more complex than your average Gameboy. They are no bigger than a calculator and hold 8 MB of memory. Virtually any program that is available for a PC is available for the Palm. The handhelds come with a cradle for connecting to a PC and a battery charger for charging. Once the Palms are connected to the PC, students can back up, update, and exchange information with their handhelds. The Palms are also Internet ready and, provided one owns a modem, can connect to the internet.

Mrs. Neufeld finds the Palm very handy to use because it’s smaller and more versatile. “There’s a lot more things you can do with it that you can’t do with an Agenda (book). The down-side is, it’s more delicate, so you have to be more careful with it.”

When asked what the goals of the project are, Mr. Doherty commented, “First of all, we hope to expose students to the use of handhelds. And secondly, we hope to find educational uses for the Palm…. Ways that the Palm could possibly take the place of a large computer, for instance.”