Project Hiller: The Impact of Ubiquitous Portable Technology on an Urban School - Summary Report

May 1, 2002

Over the past decade, the Union City School District has been developing and updating a community-wide networking infrastructure to support its comprehensive program of educational reform. The district and its technology initiatives provide an exemplary context in which to examine the potential of new technologies to support teaching and learning.

For this project, the Union City Board of Education committed three years of funding (1998-2001) to provide network-enabled laptop computers (with printers and Internet access) to 40 incoming freshman students and 20 teachers and administrators in one of the district's two secondary schools, Union Hill High School. In Years 2 and 3, additional cohorts of students and teachers were added to the program, reaching an immediate total of 70 teachers and 110 students, as well as others beyond the program itself. More than simple technology access, Project Hiller students and teachers received extensive technology training and were required to actively adhere to the aca-demic and participatory expectations of the program.

To document the impact of ubiquitous technologies on a context in which many of the initial challenges associated with urban school reform and technology integration have been overcome, CCT was invited to conducted a longitudinal research study of Project Hiller. Specifically within the reform setting, CCT focused on how Project Hiller's goals and implementation affected students learning, teacher-students relationships, and the climate of the school.

Taking advantage of the portable and ubiquitous benefits of the laptop, Project Hiller targeted key areas across multiple levels of the school to:

  • Create a cadre of technologically sophisticated students to advance the use of technology among peers and teachers at Union Hill High School

  • Improve relationships between students and teachers and, by supporting students' facility with technology, enhance teachers' perceptions of students' capabilities

  • Make technology more central to core teacher practices

  • Increase student performance and outcomes on traditional measures as well as on more authen-tic measures such as students' multimedia project presentations

  • Encourage the best eighth-grade students to continue enrolling in the city's public school system

  • Provide urban students with technology comparable with that of suburban schools

Data gathered over the course of three years, complemented by eight-grade retention, honors enrollment and test performance materials collected by the school district, indicate that Project Hiller has been well implemented toward the above goals. To read the full summary report, download the report PDF.


Margaret Honey
Meghan McDermott
Daniel Light