A $500,000 initiative in the Perry School District means each student in grades 6-12 will have a laptop checked out to him or her, and will use it in and out of school, explained Rich Nichols, technology director for the Perry Schools.
"We’ll plan to have all the computers out to the students in October," he said.
Before that time, about 100 students will receive laptops earlier as a test run and to help work out any bugs. Those students are made up of members of the National Honor Society and the BlueJay Congress at the high school as well as selected students at the middle school.
He gave Perry School Board members an update at their regular Monday meeting, focusing on classroom control, security and support.
The computers are using LanSchool program to give teachers complete control of the student computers during class. Teachers can see what is up on each student’s computer, can take control of individual computers, even display a student’s work on a larger screen for everyone to see.
The program allows teachers to keep students focused on classroom activities. Teachers can make decisions about what sites or what programs students are allowed to use.
There are also security settings which allow students to go online at home, but not to have complete free reign.
And perhaps the area that most teachers and students will be concerned about is support throughout the school year for any computer-related questions and problems.
That support will come in the form of 10 high school student technology interns who will be able to do troubleshooting and more throughout the school year. There will also be technology training resources, remote desktop service and Google Apps Support Site, as well as technology support online forms.
Nichols has help from several interns this summer
Nichols said in a later interview that the interns have been crucial to the one-on-one computer program, as has his assistant technology director, Nancy Iben.
The district is about three weeks behind in getting the computers up and running, Nichols said
The first step was to match each computer by serial number to a student. Although the computers arrived late, the company sent the serial numbers early so the school could have the computers and students matched up before the laptops arrived.
Iben built programs into one computer to create what they call the "perfect" computer – one laptop that has all the programs that all the students need. Then all the components that make up the perfect computer were downloaded into the other computers 25 laptops at a time.
The interns then had to initialize all the programs on each laptop for the middle school computers. High school students will initialize their own programs. However, each computer, particularly at the high school, must be customized further for each individual student according to the classes he or she is taking.
Before all the laptops are rolled out to students, each one will be put into a computer bag which will have an identification tag.
People need to remember, however, that the school district still needs specialized instructors to teach. "Computers are not the solution, they are just a tool that allows our educators to do what they need to do to teach," Nichols said.