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Westside HS Students Getting Netbook Computers | News

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Westside HS Students Getting Netbook Computers
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Bibb County students and teachers discussed the importance of integrating technology in schools during a Skype conference call with state officials on Thursday.

Students answered questions about why they like using certain technology, like laptop and netbook computers.

At Westside High School, the district plans to make classrooms more tech-friendly this school year by supplying all ninth and tenth grade students with netbook computers.

So far, the district says more than 600 of the school's approximate 700 ninth and tenth grade students have received the computers. They hope to distribute the remaining computers, which will be on loan until the end of the school year, by the end of the month.

Westside High School is one of two schools in Georgia to receive federal 'blended learning' grant funds, to integrate technology in its classrooms.

Under the grant, the high school will receive $1.7 million over the next three years to eventually distribute netbooks to students in all grade levels. Grant funds cover the cost of distributing the netbooks, according to Bibb County schools spokesman Chris Floore.

Students in Advanced Placement classes at Rutland High School began using iPods in the classroom last school year.

Students who participated in Thursday's discussion say technology, like laptops and netbooks, allows them to learn at their own pace and access online tutorials that give them more options for learning and demonstrating classroom concepts.

Alexandria Maddox, a seventh grader at Weaver Middle School, says she wants the district to provide laptops and netbooks to students in all schools.

"Sometimes it's hard for me to comprehend when I'm on paper," Maddox said. "There are some students that learn slower than others or faster than others."

Some students and teachers say vodcasts, or video tutorials, provide better visuals for learning and give students a way to watch lessons outside of the classroom when they do their homework.

During the discussion, Westside High School senior Brandon Parham told state officials he brings his own laptop to class to download online tutorials that demonstrate the same lesson in different ways.

He wants more schools to embrace technology, and do more to integrate new tools in the classroom. He says so far, he thinks the district is headed in the right direction.

 "As the future progresses and we start to understand that technology is needed then that won't be a problem anymore," Parham said.

Westside's technology upgrade presented the district with some challenges. Officials say adding hundreds of wireless netbooks this month crowded the school's server space, but they say they ordered hardware that should fix the problem.

Teacher Tony Jones, who shows Rutland High School teachers how to incorporate technology in their lesson plans, says the tools benefit students.

"It allows the learner to take control and take charge of their learning," Jones said.

He thinks figuring out how and what technology to use should be up to the schools, and not state mandates.

"All it ends up being is a paperweight type thing if it's not something that's going to be used," Jones said, "so you want to find the technology your school will use." 

Bibb officials say some schools have considered adding e-textbooks, that let students access more content on the web.

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