The netbooks are here, the long awaited netbooks ARE HERE. Woohoo... woohoo.... woohoo...
In some ways, this grant is a blessing. Now, *all* students 7-12 have a netbook in hand. No more worrying about signing up for the lab or computer cart. No fighting to scrounge up the missing laptops off the cart.
Of course, all students did not actually receive a netbook. Those with fines, without a parent consent, or those who choose not to, are netbook-less. Today, the first day for most students, some came without them already.
In other ways, this entire grant is a nightmare. While the grant's name (Broadband Technology Opportunities Program) suggests it will increase broadband availability in our region, in reality, it has nothing to do with that goal, even remotely. The grant has simply put netbooks into the hands of students, grades 7-12. That in itself is a lofty goal, and a potentially worthwhile one as well. Unfortunately, the students I know who have broadband at home, have a computer. The ones who did not have broadband before the grant handed them a netbook, will not have it now either.
Having netbooks at school will be great for many things. Incorporating technology regularly into the curriculum will become much easier. Hopefully, teachers will take advantage of this opportunity to find new ways to engage students in non-traditional ways. Unfortunately, no teaching training in technology integration was part of the program so for many teachers, the netbooks will not change instruction long-term.
For the immediate impact, students are so excited and busy surfing on Facebook, playing games, and Skype-ing with each other, they can barely contain themselves to be bothered with completing assignments. In particular, for students without broadband at home, this is a magical opportunity to catch up with friends who always get to play online.
We've jumped in head first without first testing the waters. We didn't take the time to teach appropriate computer usage, or acceptable classroom rules. Our filter system is yet to be upgraded so it is basically a free for all for students. As the school year winds down, and the netbooks are new and exciting, most teachers are just giving students free reign thinking by fall, the new will have worn off and we can start the school year fresh with a different approach.
I am excited to try and incorporate more technology next year. I just am skeptical until I see all the netbooks come back, in working order. Only time will tell.....