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Computers help link students for group projects

Published: Thursday, May 15, 2014 5:30 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, May 15, 2014 5:32 p.m. CST
Caption
Keaton Hudson and Garrett VanDrew work on a project Monday morning on a pair of Chromebooks. The Polo High School has two 25-computer mobile labs that can be brought to classrooms. Photo by Chris Johnson

By Chris Johnson

Reporter

Assigning group projects at one time required a trip to the library or computer lab, but students in Polo can now work on projects in the classroom.

Students in William Anderson’s agriculture class Monday morning were working on group projects on one of two ChromeBook laptop computer carts.

Each cart has 25 computers and teachers can schedule the cart to be in their classroom instead of having to reserve the computer lab.

“We can work at our own pace,” said student Colton Griffen. “It helps with our projects being able to research in the classroom.”

Anderson said the students were using the ChromeBooks for a wildlife study presentation.

“These computers allow multiple students to work together on the same project,” he said. “Everything is saved in the cloud.”

The cloud is a computer term for files stored on a server not the individual computer. Anyone can access the files stored on the cloud server with a password. 

In the past some students may have done the entire project, but with the ChromeBooks Anderson can see which student is working on each part of the project.

“The presentations are shared and I can see what they are working on instantly,” Anderson said. “These ChromeBooks allow for guided learning and the students can incorporate images and videos into the presentations.”

So far the computers have allowed for new opportunities for learning.

“Next year I plan on incorporating the computers even more,” said Anderson.

The computers were purchased through the Polo Community School Foundation.

This group helps to raise money to provide opportunities to the students in the district.

“The ChromeBooks started as a way to honor Sarah Kamp,” said principal Andy Faivre.

Kamp was a teacher at the Polo High School who passed away last year as a result of a traffic crash.

To ensure the ChromeBooks were compatible with the school network, Faivre said upgrades were made.

“The computers were ordered in January and were ready for the classroom in March,” he said.

Faivre said every student has an account and access to shared files.

“Two students can work together on projects using these ChromeBooks,” said Faivre. “We are helping prepare our students for college.”

Currently the two carts of 25 computers are being used every day and Faivre would like to see more mobile labs in the future.

“The foundation has been supportive in our schools,” he said. “VIPS also helped with this project.

The cost of the computers and carts was a little more than $16,000, said Faivre.

In the science lab, teacher Ryan Deets knows how valuable computers can be to his lesson plans.

“The Chromebooks are a great resource for every department and it is awesome to have them,” he said. “Our students are able to do research in the classroom which saves time every day.”

Some of the research in the science lab may include looking up a video to see how a dissection is completed or how to set up a microscope for a lab.

“These Chromebooks are convenient,” said Deets. “Students can access their files anywhere, even on their smart phones.”

Using computers in the classroom can also help with different levels of learning, he said.

“I can keep every student engaged,” said Deets.

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