Laptops granted to class

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LANGLEY --- Savannah Strom says a new laptop she'll receive this week at Midland Valley High School should help her become better organized.

Midland Valley High School student Savannah Strom, 14, talks about laptop computers that she and 350 freshmen will receive through a grant.  Chris Thelen/Staff
Chris Thelen/Staff
Midland Valley High School student Savannah Strom, 14, talks about laptop computers that she and 350 freshmen will receive through a grant.

"Right now my notebooks are kind of astray," the 14-year-old said. "We'll get flash drives (in addition to a laptop), so I can type my notes now. Everything will be online now."

Savannah and 350 of her freshman classmates will have HP laptops to take home and use in class as part of a state grant awarded in the summer.

Midland Valley High is the largest of six South Carolina schools to receive the laptop and tech-support packages, valued at $1,500 for each computer. The laptops will remain with students until they graduate in 2011.

The grant was written with the help of district administrators and Public Education Partners, a local nonprofit organization.

Students attended a Wednesday ceremony with parents to register user names, passwords and serial numbers. Although laptops didn't go home right away, students and teachers said they've already spent the week excitedly discussing how they will be used.

"It's not that paper resources weren't there, but we're rethinking the way we teach with new resources," said Donya Long, an English teacher at Midland Valley.

Notes, journals and assignments will be kept online through the Moodle program, an open-source software that creates virtual classrooms. Moodle will constantly keep everyone plugged into the latest classroom information and also allows students to collaborate online, so group work can be done without having to be in the same location.

Even with the new capabilities, students have already been warned that even though the computer goes home, it should be used like a school computer. This means no visiting sites such as MySpace or downloading music.

"We tell them it's a tool, not a toy," said Lisa Deibel, a Midland Valley English teacher, about keeping students on track during class.

Eventually teachers will have capabilities to view all the students' monitors in class with one click if they are worried about wandering Web surfers.

Parents also are being told of the best practices for the computer in the home.

"It's not going to be a problem for some students, but it's really up to the parents to set rules and expectations of use," said Patti Strom, Savannah's mother. "Some of it just seems common sense, but then you never know."

Savannah doesn't expect her classmates to be too reckless with the new technology, saying, "We'll put them to good use."

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or

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legal_works 01/17/08 - 12:35 pm
yay, they are finally

yay, they are finally here!!!! i hope all of these kids, including mine, will take full advantage of the laptops and build a bright future!!!!

rainboot 01/17/08 - 01:12 pm
What happens when a kid takes

What happens when a kid takes his/her computer home and trashes it? Will they be fined? Have to replace it at their own expense? What if a child who has received a computer moves out of town...or another child moves in who did not receive one? What about changing technologies??? Can you actually monitor the traffic or use of the computer? What about (God forbid) a child using this computer for illegal purposes??? Or, a child who is victimized while using their state funded computer? Too many questions that don't seem to have answers. I am all for advancing technology in the classroom. I am all for using the web to enhance learning. But, to take the word of a 14 year old who says, "I don't expect my classmates to be too reckless with the new technology" is completely absurd.

fordtrklvr 01/17/08 - 01:42 pm
This is a response to

This is a response to "rainboot". All of your questions are legitimate and were answerd last night. The student and parent are responsible for what happens to the computer. If a child leaves the system, the unit must be returned. The units have the same system blocks that the school computers have to restrict certain web sites. There will also be an FBI agent talking to the students and telling them this. The units can also be tracked. Each lap top and their software are registers to the student that recieves them.I am sure there are going to be a few to try and circumvent the safe guards but I feel that the majority of the students are going to use them as they were ment to be used. Remember, this is a Pilot Program to see how it works and I am sure there are going to be bugs that have to be worked out.

legal_works 01/17/08 - 01:57 pm
yay "fordtrklvr" your kid

yay "fordtrklvr" your kid got one too!!! i am really excited about this and i do hope that they all succeed even though in this society, we do know that some of them will try to buck the system. i just pray that the majority of them take advantage of a successful future that they can have. i attended the meeting also!!!

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