Tablet PC as Cornerstone of Technology Initiative at Dwight-Englewood School

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The Tablet PC serves as the cornerstone of the technology initiative at P-12 Dwight-Englewood School in Englewood, NJ.

By making technology more available, reliable, and flexible, the school hopes to capitalize on the success of its Math, Science, and Technology (MST) program to offer students an educational experience which encourages creativity and real-world problem solving using the tools and information that will be the foundation of the society they will one day lead.

In the Upper School, students will do all of their work for Tech class on tablets. This work will integrate with Math and Science classes.

Middle School instruction will include Tablet note-taking and organization in addition to their extensive lesson use. Most students will use the device as a personal organizational tool to keep track of all of their electronic resources such as documents, books, schedules and eMail.

Computer use in other subjects will vary depending on the teacher.

In AY 2008-09, sixth-grade math text will be available in electronic format. Administrators will continue to investigate the availability of other electronic texts. D-E goal is to lighten backpacks with these Tablets.

Tablets also enable teachers to ask test and quiz questions that require the use of the Internet to solve problems.

School officials argue that success in school and in the “real” world increasingly depends on an individual’s ability to find, evaluate, and use information. Tablet PCs give students daily practice in that type of thinking. D-E has come far in its use of technology as a learning tool. This is the next logical step.

All academic teachers have been trained on Tablet PCs. In the fall of 2007, all incoming 6th and 9th graders purchased tablets to use in their classes. Other students may also purchase and use a Tablet PC through the school.

The model for the 2007-08 school year was the Fujitsu Lifebook 4220, with a 2.0 Ghz dual core processor Intel Centrino technology, 80 GB hard drive, 2GB of RAM and an 802.11b/g wireless radio. These devices make for faster mobile performance with longer battery life. This tablet has an internal CD-ROM which can be removed from the device to acommodate a secondary battery. With the secondary battery, students can to get through the entire school day with a single charge.

A full time technical staff responds to students’ technical problems about connecting and using the school’s network.

All campus buildings have equipped high speed wireless Internet access. Classrooms have an audio/visual system that includes a ceiling mounted LCD projector, VCR / DVD player and a control system to allow them to project web sites, movies, or other sources such as a video microscope for their classes to discuss. A control system allows the teacher to instantly switch among these sources so that a web site or Power Point presentation can supplement a video.

Kudos, Dwight-Englewood School for demonstrating to other school educators a way to include Tablet PCs as an integral part of instruction and learning. Thanks for your level of detail that allows others to follow your demonstration. Please keep us informed of your progress!

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Robert Heiny
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in [I]The Encyclopedia of Education [/I](1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for [I]TuxReports[/I].com.