Virginia’s Henrico County is already known to many Mac enthusiasts as the location of Apple’s largest educational sale of iBooks to date — the day that Apple announced the new version of the consumer laptop computer, they also announced that Henrico County was on board with an order for 23,000 of them. Writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Rhea R. Borja now has an explanation for what Henrico’s doing with some of those systems. Borja’s comments come in a new article entitled
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Henrico schools are offering summer school students their first online class, in which students use practical skills to plumb the Internet in search of data about emergency care and other health issues. Students also create their own Web pages and chat with each other online, as well as use e-mail. The majority of the 430 kids enrolled in the pilot program are using desktop computers to do their work, but Borja said that 180 of them are using iBooks to do their work. The Times-Dispatch even has a photo of one such class at work (although the kids in the photo are working with the older style iBook, not the newer one unveiled in May).
“The students who have the iBooks are among the first to use the laptops, which will be distributed to every Henrico high school student this fall,” wrote Borja. “The project is part of an $18.6 million technology initiative with Apple Computer Inc. the school division announced earlier this year.”
Borja said that the pilot program has yielded some interesting results so far. Henrico educational specialist Bonnie Conner-Gray said that she likes it because it puts info into kids’ hands that would be out of date by the time it reaches textbooks, and kids enjoy it because they say the online classes give them a bit more freedom. There have been a few setbacks, said Borja, including some setup difficulties and some usage problems caused by general inexperience with computers, but the kids seem to be enthusiastic.
“[The students] were all high-fiving each other when I told them they were in the laptop class,” health and PE teacher Jessica Begyn told Borja.