First meeting about Cape school computer initiative to be Monday

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cape Girardeau public schools will begin an extensive examination of an initiative that would provide portable personal computers for all students when an "action research committee" meets for the first time Monday.

Around 40 of the district's administrators, teachers, parents and some community members will gather at the central offices from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Assistant superintendent Sherry Copeland, who is acting as committee chairwoman, said the school community is showing great interest in starting a "1:1" initiative.

1:1 initiatives are essentially programs that promote using technology for instruction. Research findings contrast on how the initiatives affect student achievement and school environment, but in the past decade many schools across the country have tried some form of instruction that incorporates use of a laptop, netbook or tablet by students. Success of such programs often depend on the level and frequency of technology use, instructional methods, the amount of support from teaching staff and the availability of funds to keep devices up-to-date.

Copeland has been working directly with the district's technology department to research effective programs and assess the feasibility of starting a program in Cape Girardeau. Answers to questions about a program, including how the district could fund one with startup costs that could reach as high as $500,000, will be looked at by subgroups of the action research committee, she said.

Seven or eight subgroups will each be assigned to look at one aspect of a program, such as cost determination, funding sources, research on effectiveness and how a program could change instruction.

Copeland said she is excited to see that plenty of people volunteered for the committee and that there is a diverse group, but she added that if the district is to implement a program, it needs to approach that move cautiously and systematically.

"This is about shifting to what is best for the student and how we can best serve their needs," she said.

District staff first approached the school board with the idea of looking at a 1:1 initiative at a special meeting of the board earlier in June.

Board members, including president Stacy Kinder, said at the meeting that they were interested in learning about a program and possible benefits for students. Kinder plans to attend Monday's meeting.

"I'm really looking forward to hearing more about it," she said.

She said she likes the idea of a program because she thinks Cape Girardeau schools should be keeping up with technology as much as possible.

Part of Copeland's research into programs has been looking at what other Missouri districts are doing with 1:1 programs.

"It will be really good to know about that, because then we don't have to reinvent the wheel if we do it," Kinder said. "I think we need to because it would be very easy for us to fall behind quickly."

Copeland said the technology department staff will give several presentations about 1:1 use during the meeting. The committee meetings are open to the public.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

301 N. Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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