Congressman, school chief announce grant

Wednesday, September 19th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Handheld computers are the wave of the future in education and a large group of Oklahoma students are getting in on the ground floor of the innovation, officials said Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., and Sandy Garrett, state school superintendent, announced that 225 eighth-grade students at the Mayfield Middle School will soon be getting the devices as result of a $250,000 federal grant.

``Very soon, every textbook, every assignment and every class note _ plus multimedia and a lot more _ will fit into the palm of a student's hand,'' Istook said. ``Using this technology can give Oklahoma students the lead for the high-tech careers of the future.''

Istook said the number of schools that are using handheld computers across the nation can be counted on two hands.''

Under the pilot project, students at Mayfield, which is in the Putnam City School District in Oklahoma City, will check out the tiny computers and basically keep them until the end of the school term.

Istook said studies show ``the learning curve is so much faster when students have constant access to computers.''

He said he is actively seeking ways to expand the program in Oklahoma. ``This is just the beginning,'' he said.

Garrett said the project will allow students to have use of a computer for a fraction of the cost of a laptop or desktop computer.

Officials said the cost of handheld computers as result of a group buy will be less than $200 each.

``It's not just the advantage of size,'' Istook said. ``Students today share computers, having only occasional access to a desktop machine. These small, inexpensive portables let students use them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because each student has their own.

``They learn more and more rapidly about using computers as a personal tool. To them, it becomes as simple as using pencil and paper and that gives their future a huge boost.''

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