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2014-08-25 at 13:39

Classroom upgrades

By Leith Dunick,
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Technology isn’t the future at some Thunder Bay high schools, it’s the present.

On Monday officials from the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board announced they’ll be spending more than $1 million to equip classrooms with laptops, tablets and wireless compatibility, an attempt to help students prepare for life after high school.

Chemistry teacher Michelle Luu was one of 13 instructors who took part in a pilot program last school year at St. Ignatius and St. Patrick high schools and said having access to the technology in the classroom not only excites students, it also gives teachers a better handle on how they’re progressing.

“I was able to develop interactive lessons and it gave students a voice that some of them never had before,” Luu said.

“I was also able to assess them throughout the lessons and knew exactly where every student was at every step of the way. So if somebody was falling behind I knew exactly who that person was – and nobody else did. I was able to get to them right away and catch them back up.”

Students could also anonymously get descriptive feedback and help from other students.

“It was really nice for those shy kids who don’t really want to show people their work.”

Luu said introducing tablets and computers to students in the classroom is a natural progression in education.

Many students are already using the technology at home, and knowing it backward and forward will be a requirement when they hit college or university and later, the job force.

“It’s important they get familiar with it and know how to use it to help themselves when they’re done with us and move on to post-secondary education,” Luu said.

The improvements were noticeable, she added.

“Absolutely,” Luu said.

“The biggest improvement I found was with those quiet students, who didn’t really talk to you and you didn’t really know how they were doing. They have a voice now. Everybody has  a voice now, instead of just those few kids who always (speak up).”

TBCDSB director of education Pino Tassone said the success of the pilot program, combined with similar results at the elementary school level, encouraged board members to push for the upgrade, which will provide a MacBook Pro to each teacher, training on the software. Each school will also see PC computers replaced with iMac desktops and two additional mobile iPad carts for classroom use. The board also intends to continue and expand its iPad mini project in 2014-15.

“Once we brought in the technology into the classroom, right away the students were engaged,” Tassone said.

“This is the way students learn now and we felt we had to be on top of the game.”

Tassone said the commitment extends to the elementary school level, where hardware and software updates are planned.

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We've improved our comment system.
blahbaty says:
As great as it is spending a million on technology in the school the decision to go Mac based missed the mark.

If you're preparing your students for life after highschool why wouldn't you move to push PC based technology when the vast majority of major business use Microsoft. Apple still doesn't have a viable back end infrastructure to support any major business.

Please tell me what government office, hospital or manufacturing industry is running on a Mac Platform?

Obligatory Tbaynewswatch comment: Sounds like someone got wine and dined by the apple rep.
8/25/2014 2:50:23 PM
tiredofit says:
Totally agree, they are preparing a lot of students for failure if they don't know squat about the PC world. As both a Mac & PC user I know first hand there is a definite difference between the platforms, especially ion the back end of things. While Mac does have a server software, it's not the same. Even the Mac Version of office is different enough that some find it extremely confusing to wok between the two.
It's also expensive for parents who opt to purchase home Macs for their kids. They start on average at a $1000+ per laptop, you can purchase 1-3 decent laptops for that price.

I find Mac computers great, especially for doing graphic design etc, but I still find myself on the PC more often than not, especially on the business side of things.

Apple also does not offer any real discounts for the hardware ether. They may toss in the occasional iPad for every 10 MacBooks purchased, it's not an economical solution. Most of what they do on e Mac can be done on a PC, cheaper.
8/25/2014 5:23:31 PM
unheard says:
it is a interactive learning tool
it is not a computer course
Apple is way more user friendly

8/25/2014 7:42:05 PM
blahbaty says:
100% agree tiredofit. I forgot to mention the cost of an iMac ranging from 1149-2049 while a dell desktop starts at 680 without an educational or government discount. Good luck even teaching a simple programming class on a Mac to prepare the kids who would like to even explore any sort of computer programming. Everything is now written with visual PC only.

Or a hardware class using a closed box device.

Huge waste of money... HUGE.

My favourite line of the article:

“I was able to develop interactive lessons and it gave students a voice that some of them never had before,” Luu said.

Was Powerpoint or any of the adobe suite products not good enough?

I'd hate to be a tech for the school board.
8/25/2014 9:55:01 PM
lake superior guy says:
The Separate School Board here has been using Mac computers for many years. Should they just dispose of all the present hardware and purchase new PC's and the supporting software? I am a PC user and use PC computers at work but have had the opportunity to use a Mac. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence regarding computers can easily work with both. The problem is that people aren't taught how to properly use computers; they learn how to surf the Internet or develop a Word document, but when it comes to the operation of their preferred computer they don't have a clue. Many have "Used a computer for years" but haven't got any idea how to complete a task as simple as cleaning out junk files or de-fragmenting their hard drive.
8/25/2014 6:47:07 PM
fan says:
Disagree with both your opinion and that of the nest responder, [tiredofit]. Check the educational research for facts vs opinion.
8/25/2014 8:17:23 PM
musicferret says:
Microsoft no longer an issue: their entire suite is on Mac.

Also, the tides are turning: PC have experienced drastic drops in usage every year.... macs experiencing dramatic increases every year. In my experience, most businesses have either switched or are looking at it for their next tech upgrade cycle.
8/25/2014 9:03:56 PM
TBAY Opinion says:
Macs have seamlessly run Microsoft Windows for many many years. I use the Windows side of my Mac for gaming, and some business applications then use the Apple side of my Mac for Music, Video, Photos, and almost everything else. So your Mac is a PC is you want or need it to be.

I am writing this using Windows 7 on a Mac Computer. No big deal. It takes about 5 minutes to learn the differences in the two Operating Systems. It probably takes the kids about 30 seconds.

Frankly your comment sounds like it was written about 15 years ago. Where have you been ?

One final thing if you look at the Lecture Halls of Lakehead or any other University, Apple Lap tops out numbers PCs by about 20 to 1. So maybe the School Board knows what they are doing.
8/25/2014 10:54:44 PM
YellowSnow13 says:
I just love it! The day is coming when we don't need teachers anymore! They can be replaced with a computer. Then all the class sizes can go way up! That is great spending of $1Million. Excellent! Keep it up! :)
8/25/2014 3:27:25 PM
Shane Caker says:
Macs, huh? The real world uses pc's. Just sayin...
8/25/2014 7:11:34 PM
tsb says:
Why use Macs? Are there suddenly not enough "professional" graphic designers and musicians in the city's labour force?

This is even less relevant than the Catholic malarkey they force on their students!
8/25/2014 8:39:15 PM
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