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Netbooks give students leg up on college work

January 02, 2013
In an age where technology is moving the world forward at an ever-increasing pace, students at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School are giving the rat race of education a run for its money.

A new computer initiative has been implemented at the high school and, with the end of the first half of the year, it has shown success while having yet to reach its full potential.

Dual credit students at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School have been able to utilize netbooks provided by the school in their studies this year. The new computer initiative comes as an effort from administrators to help advanced students excel in their coursework and get a leg up in the college arena. Photo by Leslie Radcliff
The computer initiative was laid out for the corporation's board of trustees in August 2012, and an agreement was reached with Verizon to provide netbooks to students enrolled in dual credit courses that will garner the students college credit. Through a grant and negotiations with Verizon, the high school won't be cutting into its yearly budget in order to offer the opportunity to students.

Crawford County's program differs a little from other area programs in that only students who are taking courses that will gain them college credits will be supplied a netbook. Students will not automatically receive a netbook as a freshman.

"We wanted to do it as a trial, and we thought that the population that could use it the most would be our college credit students," Cindi Roberts, guidance counselor and dual credit coordinator, said.

The school received 140 netbooks from the agreement with Verizon. Currently, about 70 of the small laptop computers are in use.

"This will take us into the next year," Roberts said. "Our juniors will carry theirs over."

Crawford County School Corp. Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge said those students who receive netbook computers for their courses are able to take them with them each year until they graduate. Upon graduation, they will be allowed to take the computer with them into the next phase of their lives.

"With that model, we hope to better prepare our students for college," Eastridge said at the November meeting of the board of trustees.

In that same meeting, Shelby DeWeese, a senior who plans to attend the University of Louisville next year, explained why the new netbooks are an invaluable resource.

"I have five college-level courses this semester," DeWeese said. "Without this little computer, I wouldn't be able to communicate with my professors or get my work done on time because we don't have Internet access at home."

In her address to the school board, DeWeese also said that, by being able to take dual credit courses and having constant access to a computer, it has given her a hand up on navigating and becoming comfortable with the college forums, such as Portal and Blackboard, where students are required to post finished work.

"It's a closer look at it. I couldn't imagine not being at home and being in a new place and trying to learn all of that system without the support that we get here," she said.

Each netbook is equipped with the necessary programs and limited Internet access. Internet access is currently considered limited due to the parameters set by the school's monitoring software, iBot.

Students aren't allowed to access inappropriate content or social media sites via their netbooks.

"(The students) are on our network. Even when they take this home, they won't be able to get on those things with their netbook," Roberts said.

With every new program, there are kinks that need to be worked through, but administrators say they address each new issue as it arises and are confident they will be worked out in the near future.

"We've had trouble with administrator rights. The kids can't do some things that we control here," Roberts said. "They just have to bring them in to Kevin Wright, our technical director, and he will put in the updates."

This is, after all, a trial run for the program.

Several students said those were problems they are willing to tolerate in order to get ahead in the classroom and get a jump on college coursework.

As far as student productivity goes, Roberts, as well as the administration, is pleased.

"I'll probably be able to see more when grades come in, but it's more the feedback from the students that have come to me saying that the netbooks have given them more opportunities to get their coursework done," she said. "If they've got sports or other activities, they can take (the netbook) with them and get it done."

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