In a move that puts it at the forefront of mobile technology use on campuses, The University of South Dakota of Vermillion today announces it will provide Palm handheld computers to all first-year undergraduate students as well as first-year law and medical school students. The initiative, the first in the United States to mandate the use of handheld computers by undergraduate students, takes place beginning with the 2001-2002 academic year and affects approximately 1,300 students.
USD is working with Palm to implement the program and to select a suite of software applications for use in student coursework. The USD Foundation is underwriting the majority of the cost of the handhelds. Students will bear a portion of the cost through a small assessment during four semesters.
At a news conference here, USD President James W. Abbott said, "The University of South Dakota students live in a mobile society. We must provide a learning environment using the latest technology so our students can take advantage of the benefits of anytime, anywhere learning to better prepare for the future. Palm's mobile technology enables us to extend learning beyond the walls of classrooms".
"Another benefit is that Palm handhelds can be loaded with applications, such as financial calculators, reference books, literature books, coursework organizers and word processors, so we can considerably lighten the 20-pound backpack that the typical student lugs around," Abbott said. "We look forward to working with Palm to develop more and better ways to enhance the educational experience of our students and the teaching experience for our faculty."
Mike Lorion, Palm's vice president of education, said, "USD has stepped into a leadership role; it's one that's reminiscent of what happened in the mid-1980s when Dartmouth, Princeton, Stanford and other top universities made significant investments that led to the widespread adoption of personal computing technology on campuses around the world. Palm handhelds are a great match for today's students because they epitomize their mobile lifestyle."
Palm handhelds provide students a quick, simple, smart and fun way to learn and communicate inside and outside of lecture halls and dormitory rooms. With thousands of applications and accessories available for Palm handhelds, students can take notes, access writing tools such as a dictionary and thesaurus, create drawings, collect data, graph mathematical functions, manage activities and assignments and play games. They also can instantly beam messages to their friends, send and receive emails and access the Internet wirelessly. Palm developers have created approximately 500 education-specific applications and accessories for students and faculty.