Within the current educational landscape, schools are increasingly putting some type of technology in the hands of students. These devices range from desktop classroom computer workstations to tablets and laptops and several other types of hardware. Recently, however, many schools have opted to utilize laptops as a portable, comprehensive way to connect with educational resources. When institutions take this approach, they have the ability to access a number of programs and online websites, and there are several online materials that can greatly benefit students when used in the classroom.
New laptops for students
Among the schools that have recently provided laptop classroom computers to students is Blue Springs Elementary in Alabama. Administrators announced at the beginning of the year that students will receive laptops as part of the district’s “Digital Passport Initiative” aimed at advancing learning through the use of technology.
Parents pay a $25 user fee for their children to use the computers for the remainder of the year. Teachers at the Limestone County district said the use of the laptops can encourage students to attend classes and remain engaged in the material being presented. They hope the new hardware will raise test scores throughout the school as well.
Schools use laptops for virtual classes on snow days
Several private schools in Atlanta that were affected by the recent bout of inclement weather were still able to hold classes even though students could not physically be in the classroom. One teacher at Coal Mountain Elementary School in Cumming, Ala. provided online assignments for students, including taking pictures of the seldom seen Southern snow, and uploading their work through a school website.
“I told the kids ‘We don’t want to fall behind,'” said Tracey Abercrombie, a Coal Mountain Elementary educator. “I care about you learning.”
Abercrombie said that young students only need the proper motivation to remain engaged while at home during the snow days. The laptops helped in the case, as it provided a way for teachers to connect with students at home and continue classroom learning remotely.
A number of other schools utilized the same practice, holding online lessons for students as they remained safely in their homes. During the nearly week long weather epidemic that kept most of the city at home, students at the Greater Atlanta Christian School participated in lessons via discussion boards, took online quizzes and completed homework. Teachers also sent video presentations to ensure that students were following the assigned lessons.
Melanie Lane, a junior at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, said she didn’t mind participating in classroom lessons at home via her laptop. The students enjoyed several snow days this year, and Lane said it was difficult to return to school after those days. However, staying connected through her computer made it easier to stay on pace.
“I’m doing just as much work as I would be doing at school, but I’m at home in the comfort of my PJs,” Lane said.
Top educational programs
When schools employ laptop classroom computers in their curriculum, teachers have the ability to take advantage of several helpful educational resources online. In addition to staples like Khan Academy and YouTube’s educational channel, teachers can also utilize content like University of the People. U of P is a tuition-free, non-profit online university that offers educational content.
Another helpful resource is TED, a discussion-based educational website. The page includes information on a variety of topics, including technology, business, science, global issues and other categories.
However, administrators and educators should also include classroom management software as a means to oversee students’ use of technology. Such a program can ensure that students are utilizing their school-provided hardware efficiently and effectively, and are following along with the lesson and the rest of the class.