Wednesday, July 11, 2001
Braelinn Elementary is first school in Fayette to have a mobile computer lab
When it is time for students at Braelinn Elementary School to do their computer assignments, they do not have to go to a lab anymore, the lab comes to them.
Last spring Braelinn was the first school in the Fayette County School System to experiment with a mobile computer lab, and system officials are considering expanding the program to other schools.
The mobile lab consists of 30 laptop Dell computers on a cart, which rolls from classroom to classroom.
Each laptop has Internet access and Office 97 software packages plus school-related software such as Accelerated Reader and other programs used in various grades within the school. Students can also search the card catalog in the media center for a particular book. The computers have hot swappable floppy disks and CD-ROMs so students can save their work to a disk or load new software onto the computers.
"Teachers and students have reported that they see no difference between the laptops and the regular computers," said Ed Steil, director of technology for the school system. "I see the mobile lab as another tool just like a chalk board and chalk."
Braelinn Principal Bob Martin, Ph.D., says his school was chosen as an experiment site for the mobile system because it was slated to get a new computer lab anyway. He says the mobile unit is helping teachers meet their objectives of combining technology with classroom teaching.
"Bringing the computers into the classroom is forcing teachers to integrate technology into their instruction instead of sending students off to a lab. Integrating technology with instruction is what we're moving toward," explained Martin.
Not only does it help teachers integrate technology, but the mobile unit also provides more flexibility in scheduling lab time and saves space, he said.
"A classroom is not needed to hold the equipment and no furniture is required to support it. Because the system saves money on space and furniture, the mobile lab is no more expensive than a regular one," said Stuart Bennett, assistant superintendent of curriculum.
Because the experimentation period has produced positive results, Bennett said the school system is looking at the possible purchase of four more mobile labs for use in other schools.