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ON EDUCATING LARUE: Students receive new laptops

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Middle school and elementary students receive used units

By Ron Benningfield

 LaRue County Schools are expanding their use of laptop technology, buying new units for the high school and transferring the current computers for use by middle and elementary students and teachers.

Assistant Superintendent Amanda Reed said the success of laptops at LaRue County High School, in its fourth year of implementation, is not only shown in higher student achievement, but also is visible in other aspects as well.

“For the laptops specifically, it's more about what we see in the classroom and what we hear from both students and teachers,” said Reed. “It's how we see it impacting teaching and learning every day in the classroom and in the opportunities it provides to high school students who might not have access to this technology on their own.”

Reed said staff looked closely at purchasing tablets this time instead of laptops, but teachers and students wanted to make sure the new devices would have the same level of functionality as their current machines.

“Although tablets are great devices that provide light and simple functionality in a mobile world, limited capacity and the limited functionality cause them to fall short of laptops,” said Freddie Newby, the district’s chief information officer. “We selected a Lenovo Yoga Model 11e, a hybrid device, which is a fully functional laptop that converts to a tablet with touchscreen capabilities.”

He said the screen flips back while leaving the keyboard attached and disabling the keys.

“It is the best of both worlds – a laptop with a larger screen than what students have been provided in the past and providing a ten-point touch-sensitive tablet, all in the same unit.”

The new models will be issued to LaRue County Middle School teachers on May 20; to LCHS teachers on June 5.

The 800 new student laptops will be ready for students in time for the start of the 2014-15 school year, according to Newby. He said each student laptop costs $691 and includes a case and four-year warranty. The number ordered also includes a spare pool of units for students when their devices need servicing.

High school students will be issued their computers at registration. They will be able to use them both at school and at home, with the condition that they and their parents read and sign off on appropriate practices and with the understanding that students will be charged for intentional damage, according to Kyle Goodlett, high school principal.

Jason Detre, LCMS principal, said the laptops issued to middle school students must remain at school.

“We are adopting similar rules, care guides and procedures as the high school,” said Detre. “We want to make sure students have a smooth transition from one school to the next.”

“Students have the responsibility to care for, look after, and act appropriately with the laptops,” he added. “We want them to remain in good working condition for years of use.”

Current high school teachers’ laptops will be bundled into classroom sets for Abraham Lincoln and Hodgenville elementary schools.

“The sets will be mobile labs that teachers can check out to use with their students,” said Reed.