NEW PARIS — Starting this school year, each National Trail High School student will receive a laptop.
Two years ago, National Trail implemented a tablet initiative with the help of a $138,000 2012 Blended Learning Grant through eTech Ohio to get seven and eight-inch Android tablets for high school students.
This school year, National Trail received 500 free laptops through the Department of Defense Computers for Learning Program and Technology Coordinator Brian Pool said the summer was spent refurbishing the laptops and getting them ready for student use.
Pool said the staff said they didn’t feel the tablets did enough for students who were still making trips to the computer labs anyway.
According to a survey conducted at the end of the last school year, only about 25 percent of respondents wanted to keep the tablets, Pool said. One of the reasons students disliked the tablets was the small keyboards, which students did not like typing on.
An anonymous donor donated $40,000 to help the school get new hard drives, batteries and cases for the laptops.
Pool also bought battery bays, which have spots for 16 batteries to charge, so students can borrow one if need be. There are also dock stations being put throughout the building, with computer mice ready to go for the laptops. Students can also borrow a laptop for a day.
The more than 300 high school students will pay a $30 per year fee for the laptops, except those in the free and reduced lunch program.
Each laptop has Windows 7, Microsoft Office and other programs that teachers requested for their classes. The laptops also have solid state drives, which have memory, but no moving parts. Pool said this means students could be a little more rough with the computers and they will still be okay.
“I don’t want the kids to drop them, but I think they’ll be pretty durable,” Pool said.
Pool also said these drives are 10 times faster than regular drives.
Students who have their own 10-inch device with a keyboard can bring their own to school as long as the device does everything the school needs it to do.
With the grant they received two years ago, 25 percent of it went to professional development to help teachers learn how to integrate technology into their classrooms. The grant also helped pay for new Wi-Fi and improving the service and network in the school.
Pool said about half the teachers are using digital textbooks and said about 75 percent of testing in the high school is done online.
If a kid breaks or loses a laptop, they will have to pay to replace it.
Pool said the eight-inch tablets will be refurbished and passed down to lower grade levels and laptops that used to be used in the high school are now going to be used in the middle school.