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Archive for Thursday, November 2, 2006

Southwest Kansas district considering laptops for students

November 2, 2006

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— A largely rural school district in western Kansas is thinking about going high tech.

The Dighton school board has given approval to investigate ways to issue laptop computers to every student in junior high and high school, Supt. Angela Lawrence said.

The district, which has about a third of its students living outside the city limits, is beginning to research the cost of the computers and what is necessary to equip schools with a wireless Internet network, she said.

Teachers are also planning ways to use the computers in the classroom.

"We have a lot of education to do with our teachers and our students, so when we do put them into their hands, it will be successful," Lawrence said.

She said teachers are interested in the idea of using Quia, a Web-based program that provides testing, quizzing and review activities and games.

The program is already used at nearby Holcomb schools, which began issuing laptops to students this year at a cost of about $380,000.

"Our teachers are doing a great job of trying to incorporate them into the classroom," Holcomb High School Principal Bill Biermann said.

He said the computers allow teachers to more efficiently test students online, and on a daily basis, using the Classroom Performance System. Teachers post questions on a screen that students answer using a remote control.

Biermann also said the school is considering a move toward electronic textbooks.

"There is a lot of exciting stuff out there," he said. "A lot of the textbook companies understand that's the direction things are headed."

The new technology hasn't been without its bugs, though.

Biermann said automatic system updates sometimes come through the school's wireless network and interrupt a student's work, and about 12 of the 260 computers issued to students have needed repairs.

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