Wake Ed

Wake County distributing 52,000 new laptops and tablets to schools

Apex High School media specialist Heather Munger loads new laptop computers on rolling carts on Oct. 19, 2016.
Apex High School media specialist Heather Munger loads new laptop computers on rolling carts on Oct. 19, 2016. Wake County Public School System

The Wake County school system is distributing 52,000 new laptop computers and tablets to schools over the next year as part of an effort to expand how many devices are available for students to use.

Wake is using funding from the 2013 capital improvement program so that core classrooms have at least one device for every three students. School officials say the new devices mean teachers won’t have to reserve time in a computer lab or send students to another classroom to find technology to use.

“This significant milestone isn’t just for the sake of having a lot of technology,” said Marlo Gaddis, Wake’s senior director of instructional technology and media services, in a written statement. “When technology is available to students and teachers, learning becomes more authentic, relevant, and engaging.”

The technology rollout at high schools, which began Oct. 12, will run through the end of January. On Wednesday, nearly 700 Lenovo ThinkPads were delivered to Apex High School.

Middle schools will receive devices later in the school year. Some elementary schools will begin receiving devices in the spring. All elementary schools are slated to have new devices by the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.

The new devices will also come with additional training as teachers will be enrolled in an online course about best practices in integrating technology. Each school’s media coordinator and tech contact will also work with teachers on how to use the new devices in their classrooms.

In addition to purchasing devices, the 2013 building program also provided money for rolling carts to store the devices and infrastructure upgrades at schools to handle the influx of new technology.

At the same time Wake is rolling out the new devices, many schools are participating in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. Students at those schools are encouraged to bring laptops, tablets and smartphones to use in class.

Students at the BYOD schools are encouraged to share use of devices with classmates. But the new district devices are expected to help supplement when students don’t bring their own devices from home.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui