Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Teachers anxious to start laptop program

August 23, 2001

Superintendent Marilyn Layman spent this past week pitching a new technology program, NetSchools, to teachers. And she says the staff members can't wait to implement the system in their own classrooms.

The program would allow students access to laptop computers 24 hours a day. The communicate to a school building's server via a radio frequency connection. Information from Web sites aligned to the district's curriculum can be downloaded on the laptops for homework assignments.

DeSoto will be the first district in the Midwest to put the NetSchools laptop program to use, at the estimated cost of $2,000 per student.

Although financing details have not been ironed out, the superintendent is anxious to implement the program. Layman expects to have a timeline and cost estimate ready to present to the board and community in September. She hopes to begin laptop use in the district by next school year.

Layman advised the board that because of the cost factor, the computer system would be phased in. She assured board members that students exposed to the laptops would retain them as they advanced from one grade to the next.

The phase-in process would also involve moving from one school to the next.

One change from earlier plans involves Lexington Trails Middle School. Layman said the district needs to wait to rewire the school for the computers after remodeling was complete.

Layman said planning for the computer program was still in the preliminary stages.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Sharon Zoellner said after showing a demonstration video on the program to teachers, the teachers were anxious to utilize the new technology.

"They just thought it made sense right off the bat," she said. "They all want it tomorrow."

Clear Creek Elementary Principal Randy Doerksen added this observation: "It was tremendously well received."

Once the program is installed, teachers will undergo a 16-hour training program, with four-hour sessions for four days.

Layman said she plans to make the process of phasing in the computers as simple for the community as possible.

"We want to take this to the PTA and back to school nights, just to be there to answer questions about the program," she said.

Layman said she plans to have a link to the NetSchools' website available through the school district's website, where community members will be able to read questions and answers regarding the new program.

For now, community members can visit www.netschools.org to learn more about the computer program.

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