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400 Wasatch Students Receive Laptop Computers

Students and parents look over the new Netbooks as they go through their training. Each 5th grader at Timpanogos Intermediate School now has a Netbook to use for his/her schoolwork.

Remember fifth Grade? Remember music class when you were given a recorder to play and how excited you were to receive it?

The fifth grade students in Wasatch County School district may smile a little as you tell them your story, but they may be too busy using their new computers to pay much attention.

That’s right. Each fifth grade student received a new Netbook Computer last week that will be part of their education for the next several years.

“Over a 3-Day period we oriented all of our fifth grades students and their parents to the Netbook handbook , the responsibilities given to the parents and the students, as well as what students can do to care for these Netbooks,” said Brett Zabel, Assistant Principal at Timpanogos Intermediate School.

Each student was given a Netbook and a case to use both at school and at home. This allows students the opportunity to continue their learning at home. It should also reduce the number of books students carry (and some of that cost) as textbooks are eventually moved to the computers as well.

Timpanogos Intermediate School Principal, Deanna Lloyd, is excited about the opportunity for her students. “In that three day period, and the following week, we handed out about 400 Netbooks. Students are using them every day in their classes. Currently they are taking the district benchmark tests in Math and Language Arts.”

These Netbooks have a variety of software loaded on them that will support learning across the curriculum. Students are excited to have them. Teachers, who also looked forward to this technological advance, know that it will change the way they deliver the content of their classes.

For computers such as these to work, there must be a strong network connection at the school which will allow all users to access the network at the same time. To ensure good connectivity, the district has reviewed and modified the number of wireless access points or have repositioned them across the Intermediate school building. The District Technology Department has worked very hard in getting these Netbooks set up and programed and visit the school daily to ensure that all technological needs are being met.

The plan is for the program to grow at the rate of one grade each year, according to Karl Buchanan, Wasatch District Technology specialist. The students in this year’s fifth grade class will turn these computers in at the end of the school year, but the computers will be returned to the students the next fall. In addition, the new incoming fifth graders will receive their own computers.

The four year plan will enable all students in the Intermediate and Middle schools to eventually participate in the program.

These Netbooks are funded by the same technology budget that has been in place for the past several years. Previously, that money was spent to provide computer labs. Now, it is used to purchase Netbooks, which are significantly less expensive.

“For essentially the same cost, we are able to put a computer into each student’s hands that he/she can take home and use there as well,” said Mr. Buchanan.

Students are responsible for the computers and must follow specific guidelines for their care and use. In addition, parents are able to purchase insurance that will protect them in the event that a computer is lost or damaged.

“Our goal is to improve student learning in our school and to maximize the benefit of using mobile devices to reach our students,” said Miss Lloyd. “This is a developing program and we are working with teachers and students to meet everyone’s needs and solve the challenges that arise.”

BY JOHN MOSS   09/21/2011

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