Whenever school boards start swooning over the potential of new educational technology, skeptics often make a deflating point: In a few years, they warn, some gadget will come along that will make this one seem dated. \nThis year, that new gadget is the hand-held computer. Palm organizers and Pocket PC devices are being tested in a small but growing number of schools. \nThe largest proving ground may be Consolidated High School District 230 in Orland Park, Illinois. There, more than 1,700 Palms will be distributed this fall in the program's second year. Another large deployment -- one device for each of 850 high school students -- is occurring this month at Forsyth Country Day, a private school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Dozens of other schools, public and private, are experimenting with hand-held devices among select grades and classrooms and for specific assignments. \nThe pilot programs are early signs of another technology debate that may soon hit school districts: Which is the smarter investment, a fleet of laptops or a pack of palmtops? \nTo Rick Martinez, director of instructional and information technology for the Alamo Heights Independent School District in Texas, affordable portability is the selling point for hand-held devices. \n"We cannot afford to purchase computers for every student in the classroom, but we can afford these devices for our students," said Martinez, who equipped a high school biology classroom last spring with iPaq hand-held computers and specialized software from MindSurf Networks, an educational technology company. For every laptop he might have purchased, Martinez said, he can buy three or four iPaqs. \nAt River Hill High School, a public charter school in Clarksville, Maryland, iPaq computers are being distributed to ninth-graders. Lin Storey, a literature teacher who coordinates the program, said she appreciated how easily the devices could be toted. "For what we do in an active, vibrant classroom, we need the kids to move around a lot," she said. \nStudents with laptops are more likely to be glued to their seats -- a drawback for teachers who want to engage children in shared projects in the classroom or on a field trip, she said. \nEducators who have tried the hand-held devices in class also praise their calendar functions, which can alert students to due dates, and their beaming abilities, which encourage students to share and critique one another's work. \nNot everyone is convinced that hand-helds are the next must-have machines. Some schools have banned Game Boys because they create distractions. Why worsen the situation, some educators ask, by giving students a device that needs only a few downloaded programs to become another game machine? \nIt is the small screen size that worries Trevor Shaw, a technology coordinator at the Dwight-Englewood School in Englewood, New Jersey, who writes for eSchool News, a monthly newspaper about school technology. In an article last fall, Shaw said he liked the devices' portability, but did not envision students' using them for in-depth research or writing. \n"I think asking my students to compose their term papers on one," he wrote, "would amount to cruel and unusual punishment."
PHOTO: NY TIMES
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit