NORMAL, Ill. (AP) - Next fall, University High School will become the first central Illinois school to provide a
portable computer for every student.
The Illinois State University laboratory school of 610 will provide a netbook," a smaller version of a computer
Each student will be issued a netbook loaded with the same programs and capabilities.
We're equalizing the playing field," said technology coordinator Jim Kurz, who noted several hundred U.S. schools have
such systems in place.
Junior Elora Karim was among a dozen students in a pilot group last fall. She thinks her classmates will love the new
Almost all the homework we do now involves a computer. Now, in between rehearsals or on a bus to an away game, you
could do your work on the netbook," she said.
Her father, Khondkar Karim, watched Elora through the pilot period. He thinks students will enjoy the computers.
She carried it everywhere with her," he said.
The shift broadens access to technology while incorporating a modern way to engage this generation's so-called digital
natives, said Superintendent Bob Dean. U High still will use textbooks, live lectures and other teaching tools.
It's not going to be all technology. We still want a mix. It's really a balance and using technology as an
enhancement," said U High Principal Jeff Hill. It's not technology for technology's sake."
We're not taking away Homer's 'Odyssey' or calculus. This just allows teachers to expand teaching," said Dean.
Kurz pointed to math teachers using plug-in writing tablets for student calculations; foreign language teachers using
the technology to converse with students in other nations; history teachers researching primary documents on the
Internet; and English teachers incorporating a class chat" to discuss literature.
Hill said the computer in every backpack" model continues digital initiatives that the school has put in place for the
last five years, as the school equipped certain rooms with laptops.
By last year, that practice had expanded to about 12 rooms, but twice as many teachers wanted to use those rooms, Kurz
Each netbook with the add-on electronic tablet, costs about $380, with money from three years' worth of technology
funds covering the venture. About 65 percent of the annual $100,000 technology budget is funded by student fees.
Besides the pilot group, planning for the project included parental and teacher advisory groups, and Hill and Kurz
visited schools across the country that used netbooks.
Elora Karim did foresee one possible glitch if a student leaves a netbook at home.
It has all of your homework on it, so it could really impact your entire day," she said.