Laptop program encourages interactive learning

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Teachers and students input new settings into students' laptops for the first time Feb. 14 at the Lester Middle School cafeteria. Photo by Lance Cpl. Elizabeth A. Case
Teachers and students input new settings into students' laptops for the first time Feb. 14 at the Lester Middle School cafeteria. Photo by Lance Cpl. Elizabeth A. Case

Laptop program encourages interactive learning

by: Lance Cpls. Terry Brady and Brianna Turner | .
Okinawa Marine Staff | .
published: February 22, 2013

Quill pens, ink wells and chalkboards are all from a bygone era. But at some schools, pen and paper may soon become just as outdated.

Recently, Lester Middle School began issuing laptop computers to its students in February as part of the Department of Defense Education Activity’s w one-to-one laptop pilot program.

DoDEA is striving to increase engagement in learning and promote educational resources and methods to keep pace with modern tools through this new program.

“We are in the 21st century, a time which most of the students have only been alive in,” said Altorn R. Grade, Lester Middle School principal. “DoDEA is brave and forward thinking in promoting this huge step in learning for the children.”

The program intends to improve students’ ability to access digital resources, actively engage the course curriculum, and collaborate among peers and teachers.

“We want everyone to know this program is an educational enhancement, not a replacement for traditional teaching,” said Grade. “The children will be exposed to broader and faster means of obtaining and determining information for their educational needs.”

The tools will also help increase reading, writing and critical-thinking skills, Grade added.

The laptops provide a means to improve education outside the classroom, as the children will be requested to use them at home.

“One of the best aspects of the program is, if a student’s family doesn’t have an internet connection, they will still be able to complete their assignments,”
said Tina L. Nelson, an education technologist at the school. “All of the computers have classroom material installed on them, so students will be able to study and complete assignments offline.”

To ensure the students have a unified understanding of materials and the software provided, the school is issuing laptops with the same operating system and educational software preinstalled.

“Not everyone in the school has (PCs) readily available at home,” said Nelson. “Issuing the same model laptop with the same operating system to each student makes transferring data easier.”

For students, the new laptops not only offer the opportunity to learn, but also an easier and more efficient way to complete assignments and store their work.

“I feel excited to get this laptop,” said Caleb Roberts, a sixth-grade student at the school. “I can do my homework and hand it in to my teachers without forgetting about it or misplacing it. It’s good because you have all your resources saved and don’t have to bug your parents when you can’t find the answer.”

With the many advantages of this new program, Nelson and others see the laptop as a new avenue for learning and hope students will be able use them to
further their education.

“The laptops are an educational resource that gives the students opportunities they don’t have with pen and paper,” said Nelson. “The laptops open up
research and creative opportunities to the students, and we hope (the program) enriches educational opportunities and the learning process.”