5,900 TCAPS Students to Have Laptops
July 8, 2013
By mid-September, some 5,900 Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) students will have laptops, thanks to the TCAPS “One2World” program, part of the district’s strategic plan. Students at the district’s high schools have already been using them; the program will expand this fall to include all middle school (sixth-eighth grade) students.
The laptops are being paid for via a 2007 voter-approved bond. With the high school and middle school laptop purchases taken together, the cost is approximately $2.2 million. TCAPS Superintendent Steve Cousins credits the district’s technology department with “lean thinking tools” and efficiencies that will integrate all the new laptops without increasing operational costs, partially by conducting a class for students to learn computer repair and programming.
Why the investment? Studies continue to show that students and teachers more connected technologically find new ways to connect to curriculum content.
Says Cousins, “First and foremost, it’s a way to provide our students and teachers with 24/7 access to learning.”
He points to several points along “the district’s continuum” where the laptops will impact learning:
- Better Internet access for research in the classroom
- "Flipping the classroom," whereby the laptop and the Internet are leveraged for basic instruction methods so in the classroom the teacher can focus time on critical thinking or “higher order and thought.”
- Blended instruction, where the student is in a classroom with a teacher three days a week, and does independent work online the other two days
- Helping a student who is either trying to accelerate the pace of learning or those doing remedial work
- Special situations where a student has a unique circumstance in life where they are unable to get to the classroom
- Students taking classes totally online.
Nearly 300 students at each TCAPS high school last year took at least one class online. Coursework includes content via Michigan Virtual University and classes developed internally by TCAPS teachers and administrators.
Within a year or two, the program could expand to include kindergarten through fifth graders. By that time, technology will have advanced further, and Cousins says TCAPS will determine the technology “that makes the most sense” at that time, which could include laptops, “Chromebooks,” or tablets.
All TCAPS-owned devices come with built-in firewalls that prohibit users from accessing non-educational content, an approach Cousins calls “an ongoing struggle, but one we approach with robust filtering systems.”Comment