Star of the Sea School implemented an optional Netbook Pilot Program for grades seven and eight this school year. Those choosing to participate would also utilize the electronic textbooks. Initially, the program generated cautious interest; but how would we deal with the present economy downside, online safety concerns, maintenance, responsible usage, property theft, and more.
In the first two days back to school, approximately fifty percent of the students brought a netbook to school. By the end of the week, the faculty, parents, and students realized the boon to using a netbook on campus:
• Electronic books. Have you seen what middle school students carry on their backs?
• Responsibility. No one wants to tell Mom that their netbook is ruined or lost.
• Convenience. No down time because the computer lab is unavailable.
• Spontaneity. Lesson adaptation in an instant!
• Dynamic. Discussion becomes authentic when everyone can instantly research a concept.
• Collaboration. Work collaboratively between classrooms, at recess, after school on wiki, blog, avatar, video, or podcast projects.
While maintenance is still an issue, it is not an issue for the school. Information on suggested specs and maintenance contracts were mailed to parents over the summer. At this time, most of the students now have a netbook – those without have use of the available school laptops. I predict that by Christmas, most of the seventh and eighth grade students (and some faculty) will have a netbook at school.