Magazine article District Administration

Real-Life Laptop Usage to Be Studied

Magazine article District Administration

Real-Life Laptop Usage to Be Studied

Article excerpt

Ditching the guessing or anecdotal-story game for hard-core data is what a new two-and-a-half-year study of Deli laptops at the Henrico (Va.) County School District is all about.

In the most extensive study of a school/laptop computer program in the U.S., administrators and computer experts hope to find real answers about integrating technology into schools. The study is part of the $18 million, four-year contract between Deli and Henrico to provide laptops for high school students.

"This is about how to gather data that is responsive to teacher and student learning needs. Data ought to help with what adjustments we need to make and have an impact on student learning," says Superintendent of Schools Fred Morton. "An equal part to this is gathering data that says, from the board's perspective, what difference does it make?"

The difference in this study--which will be led by Dale Mann, professor emeritus at Columbia University and managing director of Interactive Inc., which specializes in evaluating the outcomes of different learning initiatives--from other studies is that it is beyond self-reporting and will have real data, Morton and Mann say.

The study will include looking at server records, such as seeing how much reading and math was done on laptops in a given day, Mann says. Or server records could reveal if a laptop is turned on at 7:30 p.m. Firewalls in the program won't allow students into chat rooms or questionable Web sites, so the only reason they'd be on the laptop would be schoolrelated, Mann says. …

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