Austin Students Pick Up Laptops on First Day of School

Created: 09/02/2014 7:02 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 News) -- It’s becoming a routine part of the first day of school -- a part that probably wasn’t even imagined when many adults were in school.

"The computer allows for students who are comfortable using those electronic means to have a text book on-line and an agenda book on-line," said Ellis Middle School technology integrationist Derik Gustafson.

When the school year started at Holton Intermediate school in Austin, students spent part of the day picking up their school-issued laptop computers.

"The purpose here is to give students more options ... more ways to engage with our curriculum and engage with the content," Gustafson told us.

"We used it for about everything -- we used it for math homework and studying a lot of things for tests," sixth grader Logan O’Rourke said.

Holton intermediate school in Austin opened a year ago with the school district's first one-to-one laptop program.

“They've grown up in a world where they've always been on, line, so they're used to going on-line," Gustafson said.

"I really liked using them in class because it really helps you out, finding things you need to find and researching a lot of things and just helping you," O’Rourke said.

And in the classroom of the 21st century, textbooks are optional.

"All the text books are available on-line at this point, so I know a lot of teachers are encouraging students who have the ability to go on line and use those text books there instead of having to lug around a big textbook," Gustafson said. “I don't think the computer can totally replace that text book, but they're going to be used together."

And because last year's Holton sixth graders move to Ellis middle school this year, the Austin school district is expanding the one-to-one program to Ellis.

"Holton has done a great job pioneering the distribution set-up at Ellis we're going to follow a very similar set up, and we're doing it electronically," Gustafson told us.

Photo: MGN