“With anytime-anywhere learning, our students will have the world at their fingertips. We’ll make sure they learn the skills that complement technology so they aren’t replaced by technology.”
High school students in the Houston Independent School District could get personal laptops to work with in school and at home as early as next school year. The long-term plan is to provide laptop computers for every student in grades three through 12.
Dr. Grier says giving all students laptops will close the “digital divide.”
“In our school district some kids have laptops but a lot do not. And this just gives everyone an equal opportunity, a platform to be able to explore information. It’ll change how teachers teach and it’ll stop education from ending at the end of the school day.”
He says the opportunities are endless if all students have laptops.
“Really bright kids will be able take college courses online; kids that are struggling can have tutors in the evenings; teachers can go online and you can communicate back and forth; you can email assignments and push assignments two ways, get feedback; you can pair kids up, they can learn together.”
Brigit Benestante is a senior at Lamar High School. She says technology is crucial in education and she already takes her laptop to school every day.
“Now when you do a research paper, you have most of your sources from, you know, online and online encyclopedias and stuff like that, so I think giving these laptops to kids who maybe can’t afford them or maybe don’t have the resources to get to them, will really help out a lot of kids that don’t have those opportunities now.”
Grier says whether the implementation can start next school year depends on several factors. Schools need to have the proper broadband capability for all those laptops. Teachers need to be trained and the kind of content determined. And, of course, the funding must be there.
Grier says the nonprofit HISD Foundation has committed to help raise money and he’s confident that there are enough funds to equip the high schools.
He’s hoping for more state funding in order to include the middle and elementary schools in the initiative.