Midtown Raleigh News

Carroll Middle School students get full-time online access with 1,000 donated tablets

Carroll Middle School seventh grader Jack Burkhart puts his new tablet computer in a protective case. The entire student body of more than 900 students at Carroll received new tablets on Tuesday.
Carroll Middle School seventh grader Jack Burkhart puts his new tablet computer in a protective case. The entire student body of more than 900 students at Carroll received new tablets on Tuesday. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Carroll Middle School social studies teacher Aaron Munz has all of his lessons for the week prepared, but he hasn’t had to make a single photocopy.

That’s because starting this week, every student and teacher at the school has a personal tablet to use in the classroom and at home.

Carroll is one of eight schools across the United States participating in the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program run by Digital Promise, a national nonprofit that works to improve learning through technology and research.

Using a grant from Verizon, the organization donated 1,000 Samsung tablets to the Raleigh magnet school, which has a “leadership in technology” theme.

Each tablet comes with a data plan that gives students around-the-clock access to the Internet.

Munz, who teaches seventh-grade, said the program will “level the digital playing field” at Carroll, where more than half of students qualified for free and reduced-price meals last year.

Students won’t have to worry about whether they have a working computer at home or try to complete their homework on the small screen of a smartphone.

Munz anticipates using the tablets every day in his classroom. When students watch the news and write responses about what they learned, he will be able to read them online and respond quickly, rather than reading through notebooks every few weeks. At home, students will be able to view videos and lectures as many times as they need to understand the material they’re learning, he said.

Teachers also are expected to use the tablets for activities such as video production, online research and website creation. They’ve spent months working with Digital Promise to find the best way to bring technology into their classrooms.

The Wake County school system also has a “bring your own device” pilot program in some schools that allows students to bring smartphones, tablets and laptops to the classroom.

School board chairwoman Christine Kushner said she hopes technology will be a way to individualize instruction, so that each student gets the challenges he or she needs.

“That’s what digital resources promise us,” she said.

Each tablet comes with an Internet filter that limits the websites students can visit. There are also limits on the programs students can download.

PreEminent Charter School in Raleigh also is participating in the Digital Promise program.

On Tuesday, families arrived at Carroll to learn about the new tablets.

“This is going to be a great help,” Irene Hernandez, the mother of seventh-grader Chris Mendoza, said as her son moved easily through the set-up process on his new tablet.

Chris said he’s not worried about learning how to work the tablet.

“I already know most of this stuff already,” he said.

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