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Broward School kids to be issued Apple iBooks

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Guest macboy

Miami-Dade needs to do this, but I guess all the money is going towards a baseball stadium. ::)

Laptops going to kids at 4 Broward schools

Students at four Broward County public schools will get laptop computers this year in a pilot program with far-reaching implications.

BY STEVE HARRISON

[email protected]

Within a few months, 4,500 Broward students -- some as young as 9 -- will be on the front lines of a technological revolution in the county's classrooms.

Each student in the pilot project will be issued an Apple iBook computer.

The School Board has spent $5 million from its capital budget for the iBooks -- the first step toward putting a personal computer in the hands of every child in grades 3 to 12.

School officials caution they're still working on details of what's called one-to-one computing, which is planned for Monarch High in Coconut Creek, Miramar High, Attucks Middle in Hollywood and Broward Estates Elementary in Fort Lauderdale.

But technology leaders are already thinking bigger.

''One-to-one is a big initiative for us,'' said the school district's new chief information officer, Vijay Sonty. ``We want to reform and restructure how technology is used in schools.''

Broward's success at integrating technology into the classroom has been mixed. The school system's much-touted Plan 4 -- which put four computers in each classroom -- was criticized in a school district audit two years ago. The main problem: Many of the machines sat collecting dust. In some cases, principals clustered the computers in labs because their teachers were wary of using them.

''I think it was pretty clear Plan 4 didn't work,'' said board member Bob Parks, a booster of the new iBook initiative.

Miami-Dade has not embarked on any similar program.

Broward district officials say the four schools were chosen because their principals and some staff members have been trained in using the technology. Principals are currently meeting to determine the best way to implement the program this school year.

Advocates tout the possibilities for improving reading and research skills, but it's unclear exactly how the computers will be utilized.

''If the teacher simply says close your laptops and open your textbook, it's going to kill the program,'' Sonty said.

At $900 each, the cost of plugging 210,000 students into the Internet would be just under $190 million. Assuming the machines lasted three years, it would cost about $63 million annually, not including maintenance and the cost of wireless Internet access.

That number -- the equivalent of building a new high school and elementary school each year -- would be offset by textbook savings and increased student performance, advocates say.

Wireless networks are currently being installed in the pilot schools, Sonty said.

Board members are not unanimous in their support.

''I think it would have made more sense to pilot this at one school, and then spend the rest of the money on additional classrooms,'' said board member Lois Wexler.

The district is in the midst of an effort to shrink classes to comply with a constitutional amendment. About 50 modular classrooms could have been purchased with the $5 million spent so far, said Alex Baum, director of capital systems, reporting and control.

Board member Beverly Gallagher said one way to trim the program's cost would be with digital textbooks on the hard drives, reducing the need to buy books.

Broward Estates principal Deedara Hicks says the iBooks will be important for her community where many students come from low-income homes. ''One piece is adult learning for the parents,'' Hicks said. ''When I need to do a homestead exemption, I just go on-line. There are many people who don't have access to that. And having that will alone improve your economic status -- they can apply for jobs online.'' Hicks said each student in grades 3, 4 and 5 will have an iBook, which can be checked out to take home.

The elementary school component is unusual for a public system, although some private schools issue laptops to very young students.

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Guest guyman1966

THey should not waste their time or money putting these computers in low income areas. They'll just be lost and abused. Now if they were putting them somewhere like Plantation, Coral Springs and Weston - and made the parents put down a deposit on the machine - that would work.

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Guest endymion

Sure, that would work out great for you because it keeps the rich people rich and the poor people poor. Good plan if that's what you want.

I would rather give the kids the laptops and then let our area and our country benefit from the brilliant kids who the net could help to draw up above the poverty line.

But I guess different people have different visions for the future.

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Guest fairyDust

Sure, that would work out great for you because it keeps the rich people rich and the poor people poor. Good plan if that's what you want.

I would rather give the kids the laptops and then let our area and our country benefit from the brilliant kids who the net could help to draw up above the poverty line.

But I guess different people have different visions for the future.

I totally agree.

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Guest guyman1966

Sure, that would work out great for you because it keeps the rich people rich and the poor people poor. Good plan if that's what you want.

I would rather give the kids the laptops and then let our area and our country benefit from the brilliant kids who the net could help to draw up above the poverty line.

But I guess different people have different visions for the future.

I'm all for putting nice new computers in ALL schools, even in the hood. But, sending home an iBook or any computer into a nasty area is asking for disaster.

What if:

- The kid gets jumped for the computer

- The kids mom/dad/brother/sister need a rock that night and have to sell the computer

- The house gets robbed because the computer is there and friends told friends about it, ect...

Look at the big picture people. Its not that I'd like to hold someone back, but this idea is plain stupid.

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Guest saintjohn

this is classic broward school board.

The School Board has spent $5 million from its capital budget for the iBooks -- the first step toward putting a personal computer in the hands of every child in grades 3 to 12.

is it really a good idea to give 9-year-olds laptops? a lot of elementary students walk to school (in broward, you generally don't ride a bus unless you live more than a mile from your school). are they supposed to carry their new ibooks to and from school every day? without a police escort?

yikes.

it's one thing to make kids personally responsible for text books, but laptops? high school seniors don't get their diplomas until all of their accounts are settled with the school. lose a library book? pay up, or you don't graduate. how will the school board handle missing, stolen, and broken computers?

right now, broward schools have networked computer labs, where students learn basic skills. the school sysadmin is responsible for maintaining each work station, not the students. what's going to happen when the kids start taking their laptops home? how much time will be spent checking and fixing individual laptops?

"a virus ate my homework."

School officials caution they're still working on details of what's called one-to-one computing, which is planned for Monarch High in Coconut Creek, Miramar High, Attucks Middle in Hollywood and Broward Estates Elementary in Fort Lauderdale.

i'm tempted to see what letter grades these schools received from the state, but i don't want to get too depressed.

Broward's success at integrating technology into the classroom has been mixed. The school system's much-touted Plan 4 -- which put four computers in each classroom -- was criticized in a school district audit two years ago. The main problem: Many of the machines sat collecting dust. In some cases, principals clustered the computers in labs because their teachers were wary of using them.

even with the labs, students still manage to get a lot of unsupervised computer time at the taxpayer's expense. despite the netnanny software, kids manage to download games, mp3s, porn (exposing minors to porn is a crime, btw). kazaa and similar p2p programs are hidden in sub-sub-sub-folders, and most computers over a month old are crippled by various infections. ctrl+alt+del on any terminal reveals dozens of memory-sucking programs. if you've ever tried to remove real player's "os" from a computer, try multiplying that experience by ten.

Advocates tout the possibilities for improving reading and research skills, but it's unclear exactly how the computers will be utilized.

that sound in the background is money being flushed down a drain.

At $900 each, the cost of plugging 210,000 students into the Internet would be just under $190 million. Assuming the machines lasted three years, it would cost about $63 million annually, not including maintenance and the cost of wireless Internet access.

three years? textbooks barely last that long.

That number -- the equivalent of building a new high school and elementary school each year -- would be offset by textbook savings and increased student performance, advocates say.

so, they're going to save money by replacing textbooks with laptops. is all of that copyrighted material from the old books going to magically appear on each hard drive?

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Agree with Guyman... dumb idea....

A lap-top computer would be a huge responsibility and regardless of race - middle school nor high school kids are capable of handling that (with exception to FEW).

Take the money and give the teachers a raise.. then maybe they'll try harder to actually teach the kids...

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Guest LeVeL

I'm all for putting nice new computers in ALL schools, even in the hood. But, sending home an iBook or any computer into a nasty area is asking for disaster.

What if:

- The kid gets jumped for the computer

- The kids mom/dad/brother/sister need a rock that night and have to sell the computer

- The house gets robbed because the computer is there and friends told friends about it, ect...

Look at the big picture people. Its not that I'd like to hold someone back, but this idea is plain stupid.

You got a good point Guyman because if I lived in the hood I would rob a nerd and take his laptop for a quick buck. But there are some people in the innercity who will put some use to that Computer then a rich kid from Weston.

First of all that rich kid in Weston probably has a computer already anyways, when the Innercity kid probably doesn't even have a compuer or a TV even. Even with all the negativity going arounf the innercity I would still give the laptops to them because they need it and they will put more use to it in the process.

We need to raise the level of living of those people in the innercity and get them in the middle class for they can have a better life in the future. We dont have a right to keep them in the bottom forever.

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Guest endymion

As an emergency worker I used to go into really poor peoples' homes all the time where we would find a huge extended family all centered in one house. They would share everything all around like communal property. 10 people sitting around one television, four people sharing a mattress, one basketball in the whole place. These were in rough cracktown neighborhoods where good numbers of our calls were for gunshot wounds. In those houses the valuable stuff gets looked after by the whole clan. They are accustomed to looking after themselves and their few valuable belongings because the cops can't help them out as much as they can help those of us who live in nice places.

In those houses from my memory, a couple of iBooks with net access floating around the family would have a dramatic impact on the entire family and they would all help to keep track of the things. It would be the single most valuable thing in many of these houses, it would be a big deal for the family. Big sis can't check her email from her boyfriend who has a job unless little brother's iBook makes it home safely from school each day.

I believe that a middle-class angst-ridden pre-teen from Boca who doesn't understand the value of money is far more likely to 'lose' his iBook by the end of the year.

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Guest saintjohn
I believe that a middle-class angst-ridden pre-teen from Boca who doesn't understand the value of money is far more likely to 'lose' his iBook by the end of the year.

regardless of which students are more likely to "lose" their computers, i still think it's a bad idea to make 9-year-olds responsible for $1,000 laptops. also, if an entire family is "using" school board property, it radically increases the potential problems. how do you tell your older sister to quit chatting with her online friends because you need to finish your writing assignment? dad opened that suspicious email, and now your school files are corrupted. what now?

i do think it's in all of our best interests to increase the percentage of computer-literate, net-savvy people in this country. i don't think that a pilot program in broward county schools is the way to do it.

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Guest endymion

Fair points. It's definitely a risk. I think that it's a creative and noble risk and a totally appropriate way to spend tax dollars.

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Guest guyman1966

Thats right. A kid from Weston already probably has a computer or two (and maybe an iPod) - But thats because his parents do the right thing.

Any computer sent home w/ a 9 year old is not a good idea. Just like others have said. Only - if you send it home in Weston - you can have the parents pay for it when it gets lost or trashed.

If you have to give a kid a laptop, make them chain it to their desks at school everynight. I'm all for that.

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Guest saintjohn

if they really want to pursue this, i wish the school board would start with a much smaller program, and fully study the effects. an accurate cost-benefit analysis is essential, especially when so much money is potentially at stake. if it seems like a good idea, then quickly implement it on a grand scale. tech, i know you're excited about the possible good that some students (and their families) might enjoy, and i appreciate that. i'm concerned about the potential downside, not so much for the taxpayers, but for those same individual kids. i've seen more than enough lying, crying, and fighting over cell phones, pagers, and walkmans (walkmen?) - most of which are supposedly "banned" from broward schools - and i'm worried about those same problems increased by an order of magnitude because of laptops. i think the money and resources would be better spent on the existing labs, where such negative consequences would be minimized.

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Guest endymion

If you have to give a kid a laptop, make them chain it to their desks at school everynight. I'm all for that.

When they are at school they are interacting with other kids, not playing with computers. Even the article posted here talks about wasted school system tech budgets going toward computers that sit unused in classrooms.

The big question is the insurance premiums, which will be based in the future on that the loss rates turn out to be in reality. If those loss rates end up acceptably within the budget already laid out for educating these kids then that money has been well spent.

I don't get people who are all in favor of spending billions of tax dollars on building schools for people in other countries who don't see the value in spending way less money at home on creative ways to help our own poverty zones.

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Guest guyman1966

If you have to give a kid a laptop, make them chain it to their desks at school everynight. I'm all for that.

When they are at school they are interacting with other kids, not playing with computers. Even the article posted here talks about wasted school system tech budgets going toward computers that sit unused in classrooms.

Yes... some schools might waste their computers. In my kids school they are seldom unused. In fact, they just got over 60 brand new eMac's installed this summer. Our PTA paid for them. So, each class will now have 7 or 8 computer stations. And, the way the classes are set up, kids rotate all day for lessons on the computer.

Fuck the poor! If they want nice schools, tell there parents to put the crack pipe down and get to work!

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Guest macboy

I should have stated at the beginning that I believe it's supposed to be the same deal as the Henrico School District deal that Apple set up a couple years back. The laptops do not leave the school. They ARE locked up at the end of the school day. The computers are for use in the classroom only. The Henrico district only suffered a few broken computers in their deal. So it can work.

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Guest saintjohn

apple is really targeting the education market (i assume to encourage future consumers). lots of broward teachers got free ipods last year. besides using them as portable hard drives, i'm not sure of the exact justification for that particular program.

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Guest endymion

i'm not sure of the exact justification for that particular program.

Marketing. Teachers are the ultimate tastemaker.

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Guest endymion

Total cost of ownership over time is much lower on Macs than on commodity PC laptops. Especially for a large educational contract.

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Guest pod

Apple aggressively targets the educational market, as well. As of late, Dell has too, as well as Microsoft. At the secondary level, it is almost exclusively a Wintel club. I managed an academic computing environment for four years, and it was a mix of PCs, Macs, and the stray SPARC or two....but this was unusual from what I found.

Like TJ said earlier, teachers are very influential on the habits of the young consumer.

I encountered this a lot in college...from the PC vs Mac wars, to what I encountered most, the digital vs film wars. All my profs were hidebound traditionalists, choosing to fuck around with film rather than the more efficient process of digital imaging...of course this rubbed off on the student body.

Fortunately, there are a lot of younger instructors who are willing to try new things, and changes do happen, from platform choice....(yeah you see art labs sporting both PCs and Macs) to acceptance of digital imaging tech.

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Guest endymion

If the idea is to save money on textbooks, then how does it make any sense that the iBooks have to stay at school? They are going to license digital educational packs from textbook providers instead of physical textbooks, but then the kids can only access them at school? No homework?

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Guest macboy

Not sure. All I can say is it's a different era than when I was in school and we were using 5.25" floppy disks and people were asking "What do I need a computer for?"

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Not sure. All I can say is it's a different era than when I was in school and we were using 5.25" floppy disks and people were asking "What do I need a computer for?"

LOL... exactly... thanks for the memory of those big ass floppy discs.. and the black screen with green lettering.. lol lol

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