Handheld computing pilot program well received in two Georgia schools

Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, GA is piloting handheld computing in two high schools. The program involves Fulton County's North Springs and Roswell High Schools, which are piloting 60 iPod touch handheld computing devices equipped with Studywiz Spark and Eduphoria Appraise software. Students can take tests, access student galleries, download class work, organize class notes, click links to videos, take polls, join class discussion groups, and keep their calendars. Teachers can extend their teaching practices to bring in video and outside sources to support the curriculum.

"It's like a book, but a lot more organized," says sophomore Rachel Engle of Roswell High School, who uses her iPod touch every day in her AP World History class. "The teacher posts everything on Studywiz.com. I'm not all that technologically advanced, but it's easy for me to use. It's cool; we can put music and games on it too."

When asked about students having access to their iPods during class time, Mark Schuler, Roswell AP World History teacher said,"At first it's easy to feel they're doing something they're not supposed to. Are they on Facebook? Are they texting? I have had to reevaluate how I'm teaching. I tell them 'If you waste time in class, it will show up in your grade.' It's empowering, like parenting."

While Roswell High's pilot dedicates the iPod touches to one subject, at North Springs, teachers use Studywiz to deliver content to students in different classes, and students return the iPod touch units to the cart after class.

Kathy Politis, Director of Instructional Technology at Fulton County Schools, says they're seeing better student engagement, and are adding a third school, Creekside High School.