Georgia's Wireless School Project. (News Connection: Up-to-Date and Usable Education Information from Schools, Government, Business, Research and Professional Organizations)
Angelo, Jean Marie, District Administration
Georgia has become the latest state to test the merit of wireless laptop computing in schools. As part of a new pilot program, the state will give laptops to all teachers and students at eight selected schools. The Georgia Wireless Classroom Project, launched this fall, will soon have the students working in school and at home, on wireless laptops that will hold their notes and interactive lessons. The state expects to give a total of 5,000 laptops to the participants in this pilot program.
The Georgia Technology Authority is funding the wireless classroom project with a $10 mil lion grant raised through lottery funds.
Gov. Roy Barnes visited the Rossville (Ga.) Middle School in October to give the program a high-profile kick-off. It was there that each student and teacher received an Apple iBook. Apple was the chosen vendor here because the school already had a relationship with the company. At the seven other schools, students and teachers were given Gateway computers. AT&T is the ISP and Web-hosting service for the program; servers, printers and other hardware is being purchased from Hewlett-Packard. E-learning company NetSchools, based in Atlanta, is coordinating the project and supplying the new networks with its NetOrion program to allow students, teachers and parents to access materials, assignments, grades and e-mail.
Barnes has a bottom-line view of the project's outcome: For it to be a success, student performance must improve and test scores must go up. "Education has to change for us to be competitive," he insists, adding that technology is a vital component to the plan.
While Barnes is giving his full endorsement, the state's educators have the former governor, Zell Miller, to thank for the program. In the early 1990s, Miller not only set up the state lottery, but also wrote guidelines so the state could only use the lottery earnings education projects.
Although the Georgia Wireless Classroom Project is only a few months old, administrators already are encouraged. …