Loaned laptops make learning more efficient for Mars students
Last school year, Nick Ollio mostly took notes by hand. This year, he's using an app called EverNote for note-taking and archiving.
“I'm writing much better notes. I can see them on my phone. If a friend is sick, I can just email him notes I took. Last year, someone needing notes would have had to copy them all by hand,” said Ollio, 17, a junior at Mars Area High School.
Ollio is one of 1,032 students at the high school who this year received a laptop from the school district to use at school and at home. Students use them for the year and are charged a $57 insurance fee.
Students and staff say the laptops make assignments and learning more efficient. Students lug fewer textbooks because they are now on the computer. Teachers use a single email system with standardized addresses to communicate with students.
“Students need these skills to be successful in the global marketplace. We are slowly phasing out traditional printed textbooks. First- and second-graders — by the time they get to high school — may not even take books home with them,” said Matt Friedman, the district's assistant superintendent.
Friedman says use of the laptops levels the playing field among students.
“They are theirs to use 24-7. No student should have problems accessing a computer to do schoolwork,” he said.
Friedman has worked in several school districts and says the inability of some students to access technology can be frustrating for students and educators.
“Not all students have computers at home, much less a laptop. Some families just have one computer and a lot of people who need to use it,” Friedman said.
Last school year, Mars Area allowed students to bring computers, iPhones and iPads to school, in contrast to many school districts that ban students from bringing cell phones into school.
“They are important for education and learning,” Friedman said. “We decided there was no reason to keep them out of school.”
In the past, students at Mars mostly did computer work in computer labs or at computers in the school's library.
“Technology was kind of separate before. Now it's right in the classroom,” said Todd Colson, principal of Mars Area High School.
Labs are still used for classes such as engineering and robotics that require special software, Colson said.
One month into the school year, students have noticed the difference.
“Lots of times, there were no computers available in the library. The laptops make it a lot easier to get work done,” said Tyler Grove, 16, a junior.
Like other students, Grove is now turning in assignments electronically. For his accounting class, he also uses Aplia, an online homework assignment and coursework system.
The district spent about $300,000 on the laptops, without any special grant or additional state funding, district officials said.
The laptop program will eventually be expanded to include all students in the district.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Butler man gets up to 15 years for voluntary manslaughter
- Butler County commissioner candidates offer view on drilling tax vs. fees
- Butler County art show winners announced
- 5 Butler communities put small games of chance into voters’ hands
- Despite proposed closings, Butler Area school costs could grow
- Event offers Butler County commissioner hopefuls chance to share ideas
- Final vote on proposal to close 5 Butler Area elementary schools expected