The town of Mooresville, North Carolina has a grand plan for its school district: three years ago, they began providing laptops to every student and teacher in grades 4-12 (over 5000 laptops in all). While computers have been around in schools for over two decades at this point, Mooresville is one of the only entirely digital districts in the United States.
The district superintendent, Mark Edwards, speaks of a “disconnect” between students’ everyday lives and school in the absence of technology in classrooms; Edwards also notes that other school districts have visited Mooresville and viewed it as a successful financial model. Mooresville spends about $200 per year, per student on this plan.
One teacher, Bethany Smith, claims she was “a dictator” before this tech revolution; now, she feels her relationship with her students has more flexibility.
Still, though, there are issues: will students remain on-task? Since the program must limit certain types of sites and information, is that a disservice to students? Can a school “divorcing” itself from textbooks actually thrive?
Reporter John Tulenko and producer Audrey Baker explore these issues in this piece, which aired on April 8, 2011 on PBS NewsHour.
This program is made possible by the following funders:
Grade Level Reading Fund of the Tides Foundation, The Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
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