Edgecombe students 'more engaged,' thanks to laptops

Posted January 7, 2010 7:40 a.m. EST

— In the digital age, high-tech learning seems only natural, but it’s not always available.

Thanks to a grant, funded in part by SAS and the Golden Leaf Foundation, Edgecombe County Public Schools now issues every high school student a laptop.

Algebra lessons have a new look at Tarboro High School. From classroom activities to homework, problems in Joy Robinson's classroom are solved on laptop computers.

“You can get the kids to visualize the graphs and how things work mathematically,” she said.

It’s the same in classrooms throughout the high school, from history to biology. New technology means a new way of learning.

“We've seen the level of engagement increase tremendously. Students (are) more engaged, more involved with their learning,” said Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent Craig Witherspoon.

Scott Norville and other students say it makes a big difference in many classes.

“Just having that ability to go anywhere, anytime,” he said.

“English … no more books. They just give you the assignments on the Internet, and you can find the passages and the poems and anything else you need,” said student Kearra Brinson.

“The AP courses especially. There are tons of study tools that are available,” said student Sonia Carlos.

The computers put a different spin on traditional classrooms and allow students to take online classes not offered at their school.

“It’s opened up a lot of new things for our teachers and for our students,” said Principal Lisa Cook.

While the program is just one year old, Tarboro High School teachers said they are already seeing some early results.

“The first time we used it was last semester and our grades in math across the board were up, our EOC scores,” Robinson said.

They're looking forward to seeing the full results at the end of this year. The school system has checks and procedures in place for lost, damaged or misused laptops. School leaders say, so far, they've had no major problems.