Instead of lugging notebooks to and from school, students at Gosford Christian School on the central coast of NSW will carry PDAs in their pockets.
It's all part of a trial designed to gauge the tangible education and ease-of-use benefits of PDAs over laptops.
For MBM (Metropolitan Business Machines) it means a new market opportunity for the reseller's education division.
MBM is working with the school to trial three brands of PDAs -- Compaq (iPaq), Toshiba (Pocket PC) and Hewlett-Packard (Jornada) -- with students and staff in years 11 and 12.
According to Stephen Babbage, IT administrator for Gosford Christian School, students will be able to take notes, draw diagrams, set timetables and even have teachers "beam" documents and information to them in class.
The initiative, which could move into full-scale deployment from the second half of this year, centres on students developing computer competency without having the burden of carrying laptops.
"Pocket PCs have significant advantages over laptops. They are lighter, cheaper, have a longer battery life and are designed to be truly portable, using firmware rather than forcing desktop technology to be portable," said Babbage.
"We are exploring options for gaining the advantages of a laptop program without the disadvantages of laptops."
He also claims students face an added security risk carrying laptops on public transport.
Karen Norsa, MBM education account manager, said the school could roll out as many as 150 PDAs within 12 months if the trial proves successful.
It's a lucrative possibility, given that Gosford Christian School is also considering deploying wireless access points throughout the school's campus, thereby enabling students and staff to log onto the network from the playground and other non-classroom environments.
Besides technology partners, MBM is also bringing third-party finance and insurance companies to the table. The package will give parents the opportunity to purchase the PDA outright or pay it off over time.