Reporting Mike Binkley
ST. PAUL (WCCO) — When the last school year started, St. Paul experimented with putting netbooks in the hands of high school students.
It’s a little too early to give the program a grade, but across the country, teens have been using technology as a new way to connect with old subjects.
A federal grant put 50 netbooks in the hands of Cretin-Derham Hall students and gave about 300 more to ninth graders at Harding High School.
“They’re asking me, ‘Have you gotten your netbook?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah I’ve got it.’ They’re like ‘Ah, I wish I would’ve gone to Harding,’” said one student.
It was an experiment that let students use new computer-based learning tools, such as Moodle and Google Docs.
“I really want to teach these kids how to use these tools, because Moodle is being used at colleges and universities across the country. And Google apps is being used by companies and even different cities,” said a teacher.
One of the biggest issues, though, was how the netbooks would hold up, in students’ backpacks when they move to and from class.
“If I’m losing stuff, I’m going to be worried. What are they going to say if I do lose it or break it?” said the student.
And as it turns out, that was a big issue. The Technology Director at Cretin-Derham Hall, Sharon O’Connor, said there was a high rate of damage, even though the netbooks had protective cases.
She blames a design problem with the type of netbook they got, which the manufacturer repaired. O’Conner is still a believer that the type of technology has great potential in schools.
This year, Cretin-Derham Hall will be doing a limited one-on-one trial with iPads with ninth graders to see if that works better.
WCCO-TV tried to find out about Harding’s experience with netbooks, but the PR person with the St. Paul district didn’t return any calls.