The 160 Honors Chemistry students in the Turlock Unified School District each received brand new laptop computers this week as part of a pilot program. The netbooks are on loan to the students for the school year to aid in the online component of their chemistry class.
“They can view tutorials, complete assignments and tests, download lecture notes and amend them as we go through the lecture. It is going to allow students to explore even more,” said Eric Julien, Honors Chemistry teacher at Turlock High School.
Julien and David Jigour of Pitman High School were the first instructors to receive netbooks for every student enrolled in their classes. Honors Chemistry was chosen to participate in the pilot program because of an existing online program, MasteringChemistry.com, which complimented the existing TUSD material. Students use both a textbook and the website to view class materials. The website also can asses each student’s weak points and offer tutorials for that specific material.
Judi Green, information services manager for TUSD, instructed each class of students on netbook set-up as they opened their new computers for the first time. The small laptops are equipped with 3G, which enables students to connect to the Internet even if their family does not have Internet access at home.
Green told students that their computers had the same filters and restrictions that are on school computers. The filters block students from accessing certain websites.
“Under the Child Internet Protection Act we are required to filter Internet and not allow students to access harmful material,” Green said.
Students do not have access to pornographic or violent material, social networking websites like Facebook or Myspace, gaming sites and other sites that are normally restricted by the school district.
“These computers are for school work. We’ve had a talk with (students) and they know what they can and can’t use them for,” Green said.
The district’s hope is to expand the free netbook loan program so that every student will have a computer available for school work. Green said that eCademy Charter at Crane students will receive a netbook for every student, about 200 computers. The district does not currently have a timeline on when the program will be expanded to other schools or classes in the district.
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