04/17/08 — Laptops for the love of learning

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Laptops for the love of learning

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 17, 2008 2:08 PM

Through a statewide effort to equip students for the future workforce, every student at Wayne Early/Middle College High School received a personal laptop computer Tuesday night.

The school was one of nine in the state chosen to participate in the N.C. 1:1 Laptop Initiative, part of a public-private partnership providing computers to students and teachers.

Staff had received theirs earlier and been involved in training to implement teaching strategies with the new technology.

Following an informational meeting with parents Tuesday, laptops were distributed to all 144 students at the school, said Principal Lee Johnson.

"Next year when we bring in ninth graders, we'll give one to each of them, and will keep on until we have all four grade levels," she said.

The money for the computers came from the Golden LEAF Foundation and the SAS Edu-cation Practice. They also provided for wireless connections and staff development.

Mrs. Johnson said the opportunity for students to have individual laptops will greatly enhance their learning.

"Part of our goal in our county is to produce 21st century learners. This will help them be more connected globally," she said.

"We're just excited to be one of the pilot programs. Hopefully this will lead to all students in North Carolina having their own laptop."

The effort is all about putting a computer in the hands of students so they can be competitively savvy, said Mark Sorrells, senior vice president of Golden LEAF.

"On average, 70 percent of the American workers go to work each day and touch a computer," he told the audience. "But in a school, only 4 percent come in contact with a computer. ... It's all about preparing our students for the world of work so they're guaranteed a higher quality in the future."

Ultimately, said Valeria Lee, president of Golden LEAF, the goal is to provide students with the skill sets needed to meet the demands of a technology driven global economy.

"The Foundation became involved in the N.C. 1:1 Laptop Initiative to help stimulate student interest in school, reduce the dropout rate and make learning more relevant to the emerging jobs of the 21st Century," she said.

It's also an economic development issue, said Caroline Mc-Cullen, education strategy director with SAS.

"One of our primary goals is preparing for the workforce of the future," she said.

Ms. McCullen told the students at Wayne Early/Middle that with their own laptop computer, they could look forward to "seeing those high levels of engagement which we believe will lead to high levels of achievement."

At the outset, parents and students were instructed on the "care and feeding" of the new computer, which will be on loan to each throughout the school year. Future parent workshops are also being planned so parents can come in and "learn as their children learn," Mrs. Johnson said.

Officials estimated 4,000 students were represented in the progam.