In one North Carolina school district, textbooks are a thing of the past - at least in paper form. Students in the Mooresville, N.C. school system now learn exclusively on laptop computers, which are issued to every student and teacher in grades 4-12.
Students make video book reports, use the Web for information on research projects, and take tests on the computer. Teachers say students are much more engaged and excited about learning when they use their laptops, and students agree.
But some people wonder whether students might abuse their constant access to the Internet. Teachers say distraction isn't too big of a problem because they can view several students' computer screens at once and monitor what they are doing. In addition, sites like YouTube, Facebook and MySpace are blocked for students, as are certain Web search results.
Mooresville School District officials say students have made astounding gains since receiving their laptops - graduation rates have gone up, while dropout and suspension rates have dropped dramatically. And, computer advocates say the program is truly preparing students for their futures.
"For years, we would tell students, we're going to prepare you for your future, but their experience in school didn't have much to do (with the future). (It's like) telling a student, we're going to prepare you to drive a car, so get on this horse," says Mark Edwards, the superintendent of Mooresville schools.
"I think that there's a disconnect for a lot of kids when, in their world, they're seeing a whole array of technology. And, you know, it might be with games, or it might be with music, or it might be with a variety of things in their home. Then they go to school, and it's like going back in time." - Mark Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville, N.C. schools
"Four years ago, if they took an assessment, you know, I would have to sit up at night and grade every paper. And, you know, it might be two or three days. And now it is immediate feedback. And I'm able to adapt my teaching and constantly change what I'm doing." - Kristin Faucher, teacher, Mooresville, N.C. schools
1. What kinds of tools do you use to learn?
2. How often do you use a computer to help you with school assignments? What does it help with?
3. What skills do you need to learn before graduating from high school to be ready to get a job and succeed?
1. Would you like to have a laptop to use in all your classes? Why or why not?
2. What would you like to do after high school? Is technology important for you to reach that goal?
3. Why do you think giving a laptop to every student could be controversial? What were some of the criticisms and issues you saw in this video? Do you agree with any of them? Why or why not?
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