Southwest approves 1-to-1 initiative

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Students to use tablets, eBooks, laptops next year

The Southwest School Board is ready to move forward with technology by approving the one-to-one initiative.

Next year each middle school student will begin using the KUNO Android tablet. The devices are designed for school use, allowing the teachers to control the information students may access.

The devices will be checked out to the student in the morning, and returned to the teachers to be recharged over night.

Beverly Bonner, middle school principal, said the teachers will be able to design lessons and assessments based on the child's needs, allowing advanced students to move ahead. Students who do not understand the lesson will be able to access additional education resources.

Also, next year, science eBooks will be purchased for the middle school. The textbooks will continue to be used for other courses, but will be phased out and replaced by eBooks over time.

If the student needs the book for homework, they will have access to previous textbooks.

"This is a learning process for all of us, and we have to be patient with the process," said Bob Walker, Southwest superintendent.

As students get used to using the tablets, the school board felt they would eventually be able to take them home.

Bonner said the eBooks are about a third of the cost of regular books, and they come with a six-year subscription, updating as new information is discovered.

Each device costs $499, and lasts three to five years.

At the high school level, laptops will be implemented in all the high school communication arts classes, along with two mobile labs for other classes to use. Initially, the laptops will remain in specific classrooms, but eventually a check out system will be instituted. However, the devices will not leave the campus during the first year.

"We need to move toward a technology-based learning environment so we can prepare the students for the future," said Tosha Watson, Southwest High School principal. "We need to teach our kids to be ready for the world when they leave us."

The high school will not begin using eBooks next year, but the board plans to purchase the eBooks for science classes in the 2015-2016 year.

Walker recommended a three-year lease purchase to fund the cost of new equipment, which will be approximately $300,000.

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