OPINION COLUMNS

School puts technology in the hands of students

By Brian Knox | Published Sunday, August 15, 2010

Have you ever seen video of when Steve Jobs rolls out his latest Apple product?

I haven’t either, but I’ve seen photos.

Jobs is standing on a stage with a big-screen slide presentation behind him as he points out the latest and greatest product from his highly-successful company. You might know some of them by the little “i” in front of the name: iPod, iPhone, iPad and so on.

I was reminded of those images Wednesday as various school administrators took to the stage at Decatur High School to roll out the 1-to-1 laptop to student program. It’s been in the works since 2008 when voters approved $5.4 million for technology as part of the bond package. Many of the technology upgrades have already been implemented in the district. Earlier this year, the school board approved spending nearly $882,000 for the purchase of 875 laptops for high school students.

It’s certainly a major step in education for the district – not that the computers will replace teachers or the library as sources of education. The laptops will certainly be able to give educators more tools to use to reach students.

One of the great benefits is that it will give students equal access to information.

For many students, getting a laptop will not be that big of a deal. These are the kids fortunate enough to have the resources to have the latest technology at their fingertips at home. But for others, this will be the first time they will have their own computer.

It will of course be up to the students to use this tool properly, and part of the roll-out presentation dealt with proper use and care for the laptops.

The presentation also included information for parents, such as how to check the child’s Internet history. For parents worried that their child may use the laptop to view inappropriate material, the district has installed filters to block certain sites. Also, the district will be able to monitor what sites students are visiting.

And for any student who might “lose” his laptop and be issued another one, administrators reminded those in attendance that stealing school property would be a felony offense.

As I watched students walking out of the building carrying their laptops, I couldn’t help but think about how fast technology is changing. When I was in high school, I took a class my freshman year to learn typing – on a typewriter. I also took a class called “introduction to microcomputers.”

If things have changed that much in the 19 years since my freshman year in high school, just imagine what the next couple of decades will bring.

K2 ban

Rhome City Council Thursday banned the use or possession of K2 in the city limits, similar to the action the city of Dallas took earlier in the week. Readers might remember that we featured the debate about the substance a few weeks back.

While it is certainly understandable that the city would want to protect the public from a possible mind-altering drug, it will be interesting to see how the law is enforced.

For instance, the sale of K2 is still legal in many areas. If you legally bought the substance and are stopped in a city where it is a banned substance, you will be subject to a fine.

It seems it will be necessary to develop uniform regulation to handle these odd situations, and some believe the United States will soon follow the lead of other countries such as the Netherlands, France and Germany to ban the active ingredient in K2, JWH-018.

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