With the advent of the Laptop Initiative, there has been a lot of media coverage about the project.
KNOP Distribution Night
There’s No More Excuses
By Diane Finch
ARNOLD — Arnold High School seniors can no longer claim the family dog ate their English assignment or they left their research paper at home. The 20 seniors were recently issued their own laptop computers which they tote from school to home and which contain all of their school work. Next year’s goal is to supply the entire high school with laptops.
According to Arnold School computer technologist Nicole Badgley, providing students with personal laptops, which must be returned at the close of the school year, is something of a landmark action since she thinks there are only three other schools in the area which offer this service. “Our ultimate goal is to provide every student in grades K-12 with computer access,” Badgley said.
(Supt. Bob Brown quotes which I will get tomorrow when he’s at Sargent.)
Desktop computers formerly used by high school students will be transferred to the elementary school and middle school youth will use a mobile lab, which houses 22 laptops, and can be circulated from room to room. There are now nine airports or wireless connections to Internet throughout the school and each teacher in K-12 has a personal laptop.
Some teachers were initially concerned about a lack of expertise in using the new laptop technology, fearful that perhaps some students might have more computer savvy than the instructor. Badgley said teachers attended technology workshops at Educational Service Unit 10 at Kearney and the new training alleviated much of their apprehension.
“When the teachers found out all of the capabilities of the laptop, they were excited,” Badgley said, and so were the students. “We’re seeing big differences in completing assignments. Seniors don’t just sit back and talk when they’re given homework assignments. They open up their laptops and dive right in.”
Some students even produce their own movies. An English class recently required students to take a favorite poem and add pictures and sounds. All of this was created on the laptop. Eight grade students are using the mobile lab to do research projects on the Civil War. Other youth are making their own web pages. Both history and English teachers say the quality of research papers has improved since the students started using laptops.
“The laptop gives me a chance to be more organized,” said senior student Kimberly Strasburg. “Before I would have part of my work on the computer at school and part at home. Now it’s all on my laptop which I carry around in my backpack.”
Senior Jamie Jacobson said the laptop makes her life easier because she can do all of her scholarships applications on one computer and Megan Crow said the laptop saves time. “When I have little chunks of time, not enough to go to the lab, I use my laptop,” Crow said.
School principal Mike Harvey said the board talked about distributing laptops for about two years. “It involved lots of changes in teaching techniques and we had to get the staff sold on the program,” he said.
Harvey said the laptop offers a hands-on learning experiences which works well for students who work at a slower pace. Several teachers have indicated laptops help students organize materials and lessons more completely.
“Kids used to sit back and listen to lectures. Now they’re leaning in. Body language has changed,” Harvey said.
Senior students take full responsibility for the safety of the laptops and parents sign a contract that they will be returned when school closes. Badgley praised the school board and the administration for supporting and initiating the new program.
Senior Class students at Arnold High School are toting a new backpack which contains their own laptop computer. The laptop allows them one location for all of their files and homework assignments. Several teachers said they have seen a big difference in assignment completion since the laptops were issued.