No one-to-one solution at hand

About your article on Palms as the solution to the one-to-one computing dream (“eSN Special Report: Handheld Computing,” May 2003, … Take a look at those students in the picture at the top of the report. See how they strain towards the tiny screens and scrunch up their shoulders trying to type on those flat keyboards? Ever heard of carpal tunnel syndrome? Never mind curvature of the spine?

You forgot to mention that handhelds have more than one downside: (1) neck strain, back strain, eye strain; (2) not good for visual learners who cannot see “whole pictures” on the small screen; (3) wireless security issues can lead to identity theft, corruption of grade records, and network infection; (4) use of new technologies requires new software, new security, new wiring, and new training for teachers, students, and parents.

While I agree that Palms or Pocket PCs certainly have a valid place in the collection, distribution, and mobility of data for teachers and administrators, I think that to call them the answer to the one-to-one dilemma is just plain silly. In the first place, the total cost of ownership of giving every student a Palm is not $100, as you article implies; this fails to take into account the cost of training, software, security, wiring, peripherals, and network adjustment, not to mention the cost of programming all the numerous desktops already in schools to work with Palms.

Hilary A. Mochon, Project MEET Liaison Massachusetts Computer Using Educators

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