Friday, October 26, 2012
Little Elm High School to issue laptops to seniors November 1
Little Elm ISD will implement a $2 million program to give all high school students a personal MacBook Air.
LITTLE ELM Little Elm ISD is in the process of rolling out a new program that will place laptops in the hands of each one of its approximately 1,600 high school students for use at home and in the classroom.
The initiative has been in the works for about a year, and it will finally come to fruition November 1 when Little Elm High School seniors receive their computers.
Each student will be issued a MacBook Air, a light-weight laptop produced by Apple. The program carries a $2 million price tag, $1.5 million of which was used to purchase the laptops. The remaining funds were used for additional technology purchases at the middle and high school levels.
Once the program is implemented, computer labs at the high school will be moved to the district's middle school and elementary schools to provide them with additional materials and free up classroom space at the high school.
“It's a really exciting time,” said Lynne Leuthard, LISD superintendent, in a video posted to the district website announcing the implementation of the program. “Our staff is excited. They can't wait to start using the computers with the students, and I think it will be able to help every single classroom and prepare our students for the future.”
Students and their parents will be required to attend an orientation session when they receive their laptops and to pay a $50 fee for their use. After seniors receive their laptops at the beginning of November, the other high school grades will follow in descending order over the following two weeks.
“We know this is a really important step to move our students in the right direction and get them on the right path for careers and for continuing education,” said Sally Coleman, LISD Board of Trustees president, in the video announcement.
Freshmen will use the laptops they're issued next month for the remainder of their high school careers. While students are required to turn in their laptops when summer vacation begins, they will receive the exact same computer when they return in the fall.
To ensure student safety during home use, each laptop has built-in filters that prevent anyone using them from accessing material in certain explicit categories, such as pornography, on the Internet at any time. When they’re using them at school, students will have to abide by the district's network settings, which block social networking sites like Facebook. Those sites will be available for access during non-school hours, though.
“All careers are based in technology at this point,” said Jennifer Porter, LISD director of curriculum and instruction. “There's very little in the career and college worlds that can be done without access to a laptop. We're using technology all the time.”
Before implementing the laptop initiative, LISD administrators studied a number of school districts that had similar programs in place, including those at Klein, Decatur, Bridgeport, and Dublin ISDs in Texas and Moorseville ISD in North Carolina.
“We met with a resounding ‘yes’ that it's an incredible experience,” Porter said.
Porter added that about 60 percent of Little Elm High School students currently have access to computers, and because of that number, teachers can't ask them to do a digital assignment and expect everyone to be able to accomplish it. She said that percentage doesn't factor in the fact that many students with computers must share them with family members.
Once the laptops are issued, teachers will be able to make digital assignments with the certainty that every student will be able to complete them and submit them online, where they will be placed in cloud storage for future access.
After studying other districts, LISD used five teachers for a pilot program this fall to practice using laptops in their classrooms. Porter said the pilot was a success and saw high levels of computer use among participating students.
Porter said that when they first heard about the program, students were incredulous as to whether they would actually be given their own personal laptops, but that on the eve of their deployment, excitement is high around the school.
“With the laptops, work can be highly individualized,” she said. “They allow students to be a lot more flexible in ways they create projects. It's much more like the real world.”
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News