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Archive for Sunday, May 2, 2004

Briefcase

May 2, 2004

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School district replaces textbooks with laptops

This fall, all fifth- and sixth-graders at the suburban Forney Independent School District in Texas will be hauling all their textbooks around all the time. Oh, and each also will be carrying around 2,000 works of literature.

The texts will be digital, stored on IBM laptop computers.

Mike Smith, superintendent of the fast-growing Forney district, sees technology solving a perennial problem -- a shortage of textbooks and months-long delays getting new ones.

Forney is the nation's first district to sign up with IBM Corp. for notebooks loaded with content from software company Vital Source Technologies Inc. of Raleigh, N.C.

"If the students have all of Shakespeare's works loaded on their notebook, the school doesn't need to go out and buy all of those books," said Will Moore, an executive in IBM's education business. "And the real benefit is that it's all interactive and searchable."

Smith said he may buy laptops for other grades if this fall's experiment goes well, but added that price is a factor. Smith says Forney paid $1,000 each for 150 prepackaged laptops; IBM says the laptop alone normally costs $1,350.

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