McNairy County purchases 120 ASUS netbook laptops
By Christen Coulon
McNairy County’s PreK-4 students will get a head start this year with the addition of 120 ASUS netbook laptop computers in the classroom. The computers will be divided between all of the district’s elementary schools with each school receiving 20 computers.
The $40,000 computer purchase, funded by a state lottery grant, will give the county’s more than 125 PreK-4 students the opportunity to work on their own computer in the classroom.
“With the PreK-4 grant we saw the availability in June to make some improvements with technology, and we started moving at that point because the funding ends (that month),” said Dr. Brian Jackson, assistant director of schools and supervisor of instruction. “With the grant money, we were able to secure enough of the netbooks for each one of our PreK-4 programs throughout the district.”
The PreK program leaders consulted with the administration and local technology experts to help them decide which computers to get. The netbooks were chosen because they are small and much easier to store than a desktop or even a larger laptop.
“They are going to be used in centers with the children and the teacher and or assistant and with small groups,” said Sherry Carroll, program facilitator. “The (netbooks) will also be used for assessment, instruction and remediation.”
Carroll stated that they will be attending a curriculum conference later this year that will give Pre-K teachers additional resources to take advantage of this technology.
“Our plan is that whatever we choose, we’ll have a technology program that will help us...in ways that will be along curriculum lines,” Carroll said.
Carroll explained that she expects the early computer literacy training will have a lasting effect with these students.
“We have gone from calculators back when I started to IPADs in a 38-year span, and its changed so much that these little ones can pick it up and use it (right away),” Carroll said. “I think that someday text books will be going to something like this.”
The biggest impact from this program is the fact that there will be enough computers for each student to have their own.
“To be able to have your own computer in front of you is going to be so important. Most PreK4 classrooms have only two desktops, so when a child goes to that center only two can go, maybe four if they pull up a chair and watch...and that is very frustrating.” said Kay Donaldson, parent engagement coordinator.
“From my experience with kindergarten years ago, there are so many good programs either networked with the school or standalone programs that are so good with enrichment and so good at practicing the skills that PreK-4 teachers have already introduced.”
This will also get the parents more involved with their children’s eduction, Donaldson suggested.
Students can use the website, www.mcnairy.org, to involve parents in the educational process by having them visit the same links that are used in the classroom.
The computer literacy the students gain in PreK will give them an academic edge as technology becomes more integrated within schools.
“This exposes the child to a global dynamic that heretofore they have not experienced,” Jackson said. “I think that with the entire elementary and high school experience that it is the stepping stone that is going to make the difference for them.”