Tablets Create Incredible Opportunity, Responsibility for Students

To watch the full announcement, click here.

By Anna Flurry

In a few weeks, select Tri-City Prep students will receive brand-new Windows Surface Tablets. Generously donated by Terri and Rick Rashid, the tablets will be used as educational tools, starting with Junior English and Chemistry students.

These students will be the pilot group to assess student responsibility. If all goes well, the rest of the student body will receive tablets at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. In order for this project to succeed, students and parents should be aware of the rules and uses for the tablets.

“If the students, especially in this pilot program, can show that they are really using these for academic growth and can handle the responsibility of the devices, we will be successful,” said Mrs. Halvorson, Junior English teacher. “Right now the students of TCP have been given a great power in being the first school anywhere to get these tablets, and I believe they will rise to the responsibility.”

Teachers plan to use the tablets to improve the classroom experience. Mrs. Halvorson and Mr. Kaplan will have the first chance to do this.

“The students will be taking many of my lectures home with them,” said Mr. Kaplan, Chemistry teacher. “This will allow them to watch the lecture at a time that works best for them and also to re-watch it at their own convenience.”

He plans to implement the tablets during class, using OneNote and a program called Socrative.

“Socrative will be used for in class anonymous polling and mini checks to make sure the class is understanding the content,” Kaplan said. “OneNote will be used as a note-taking platform as well as to disseminate presentations, worksheets, labs, and organizational tools.” He added, “In the future, I hope to use OneNote for collaborative projects including live editing.”

“I hope we can use this in a way that expands the classroom outside the 65 minute, four walled classroom and make it a more fluid, interactive process,” said Mrs. Halvorson, who also has plans for the tablets.

“I am hoping to start by using them for speech research and note taking as well as submitting more assignments online and paperless,” said Halvorson. “I want to find ways to incorporate them in classroom discussions and project based assignments as well. They will also be a great resource for students to build PowerPoint and other visuals for use with their speeches.”

She added, “I plan on using student feedback and ideas to grow [in] using these tablets as well, and we will see where all this takes us.”

Students will be permitted to take the tablets home on school days, weekends, and breaks. At the end of the school year, tablets will be returned to the school for the summer. Graduating or transferring students cannot keep their tablets once they leave Tri-City.

Students and parents should not be nervous about using the tablets, but they should be treated with the utmost care and respect. While there is a warranty for the devices, it does not cover everything, so some repair or replacement costs may be expected in the case of an accident. The school is currently negotiating with a separate company to provide even better protection for the tablets, though no specifics have been decided yet.

There is a contract that students and parents must sign in order to take advantage of the free school tablets. Students will have some guidelines they must follow.

While at school, the tablet will be limited by TCP’s firewall restriction, just as any other device would be. At home, the firewall does not apply, but students are expected to be responsible about Internet use. The school reserves the right to restrict Internet privileges on the devices.

The tablets are meant to be used for education. Teachers ask that students do not allow technology to get in the way of learning. However, students should have fun with them as well. The goal is for the technology to be smoothly integrated into school and personal life without becoming disruptive.

“These tablets provide a huge opportunity for the progression of Tri-City Prep,” Kaplan said. “In a society where technology is progressing at a faster rate than ever before in history, it is imperative that we as a school do our best to keep pace. This spectacular donation from the [Rashid family] will provide a new educational tool that will allow the students of TCP to maintain their reputation of staying ahead of the curve.”

For more information on the sponsors of these tablets, please see An Interview with Terri Rashid.