Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Moeller: Anytime, anywhere learning

IBM recognizes laptop program

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

        KENWOOD — Moeller High School, long recognized as a football powerhouse, continues to earn accolades for something other than sports.

        Technology giant IBM has recognized the Catholic boys school for its successful laptop computer program.

        “In a laptop environment like we have, every teacher and every student has access to the Internet and the network every minute that they're in the building,” Principal Dan Ledford said.

        When the school day ends, the learning doesn't stop.

        “Course-specific materials are loaded on the laptops and our kids take them home,” Mr. Ledford said.

        This month, for the second consecutive year, Moeller students accumulated more than $1 million in scholarship offers to art schools around the country.

        Moeller's educational approach — like that of a growing number of educational institutions in the United States — is to provide students with the tools needed for “anytime, anywhere learning.”

        More educators are turning to the concept, said Mike Manning, an IBM program specialist from Atlanta who visited Moeller recently with representatives from 23 schools looking into laptop programs.

        This fall — for the first time since Moeller's laptop program was initiated four years ago — each of the school's 935 students will have a laptop computer. The program was scaled up with each freshman class and is now in full swing.

        Senior-to-be Andy Weisbrod, 17, of Sycamore Township said students aren't online most of the time, and they still take notes and use textbooks. But they have software that reinforces text.

        “In chemistry class, before every chapter our teacher would give us a list of where we could go to walk through the steps of our text,” Andy said.

        “If I was studying and didn't understand something, I could go right into the software and get an answer. It was just like having a teacher right there.”

        Locally, Cincinnati Country Day in Indian Hill is the pioneer in school laptop programs.

        The private suburban Cincinnati school started its laptop program in 1996, two years before Moeller. More than 700 students in grades 5 through 12 — and teachers in all grade levels — received laptop computers that year.

        Tuition at Cincinnati Country Day is $12,000 a year. Technology Director Joe Hofmeister said the school is at such a level of success with its laptop program that it now hosts workshops on how best to implement and use laptop programs. The workshops are held four times a year. To date, more than 400 teachers and administrators from around the nation have attended the workshops, Mr. Hofmeister said.

       In addition to Moeller, IBM is working with three other schools on piloting laptop programs, Mr. Manning said:

        • McAuley High School in College Hill.

        • Withrow High School in Hyde Park.

        • College of Mount St. Joseph in Delhi Township.

        Moeller is one of four schools nationally featured in an IBM video that promotes the use of laptop computers in schools.

        One drawback to laptops in school is cost. Students lease the laptops for $750 a year and keep them when they graduate.

        In addition, three full-time computer technology employees manage and service the system.

        “If it weren't for its expense, certainly every school would be using laptops,” Mr. Ledford said.


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