For the first time in its history, the Georgia Department of Education this month will hand out grants for schools to pioneer the use of handheld computing to see if it engages students better than traditional book-and-paper methods, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The move endorses the idea of mobile learning through small devices such as an Apple iPod Touch or Microsoft Zune, which connect wirelessly to the internet but often have been banned from use during school hours as distractions. As envisioned by state officials, these devices would be the primary, everyday learning tool of students in class and at home. Class projects, homework, and research reports will go digital. The DeKalb County school system is one of 47 grant winners in the first round of funding approved last week by state school board members. The district will hand out iPods and netbooks to about 300 AP science students at three high schools next semester. “We’re going to say to them, ‘You’ve got the iPods and netbooks. Now find six research institutions across the country doing cell division,” said Mindy DiSalvo, assistant director of grants and community programs for DeKalb…

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