MANSON - When students at the Manson Northwest Webster Junior/Senior High School arrived for the 2010-2011 school year last week, they each received an extra-special piece of equipment to enhance their learning experiences, in addition to textbooks.
Each seventh- through 12th-grade student in the district received a Hewlett-Packard Netbook, a miniature laptop computer about the size of a paper notebook, for their own usage, both in the classroom and at home. The notebooks are customized for the students with access to a variety of programs and feature the MNW logo.
Mark Egli, superintendent at MNW, said the school purchased 340 computers for the One to One Laptop program with a price of around $240,000. They were purchased with the district's 1 cent sales tax dollars. They also installed a wireless network to allow for Internet access from anywhere in the building.
Manson Northwest Webster High School students Kalib KIng, left, and Jackie Aden try out their new Hewlett-Packard Notebook computers at the school recently. As part of the district’s One to One Laptop program, each student in seventh through 12th grade received their own computer to use for the next three years.
Egli said the laptops will enhance the teaching and learning process in the district.
"Technology accompanied with teaching practices is at the heart of learning in the 21st century," he said.
For now, Egli said the district will keep its network open for students with few restricted sites to teach them responsible Internet usage and computer ownership.
"We're leaving it open access. We haven't restricted Facebook or MySpace or social networks yet, we just have to trust they won't use them in class. We're making them show they can handle having that access."
Laura Horan, curriculum coordinator at MNW, said the laptops will make the classroom more student-centered.
"Schools are about the only place where computers haven't completely invaded the space," said Horan. "The integration of technology in the classroom changes that.
Horan said with so much access to technology today, students have easily gotten acquainted with the computers and the programs they contain.
"The kids are all very excited," she said. "They haven't had any problems because they already know so much."
Egli said the computers will allow students at MNW to take charge of their own learning.
"It will increase communication and collaboration," he said. "The students will be able to communicate, access assignments and contact teachers all from their own homes. It really takes the cover off the textbook and the walls off the classroom. Everything they do now becomes global information. Many of them have computers at home, but these will accompany them everywhere."
Manson Northwest Webster is one of about 40 Iowa Schools to have implemented a laptop program. Locally, Prairie Valley and Newell-Fonda students also have laptops.
"It changes the way our students learn," Horan said. "It won't be long and all schools will have to do this."
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org