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County schools to get chrome books

Corey Williams | The Brewton Standard Mrs. Andrea Salter’s reading class at W.S. Neal Middle School work on chromebooks during a lesson.

Corey Williams | The Brewton Standard
Mrs. Andrea Salter’s reading class at W.S. Neal Middle School work on chromebooks during a lesson.

Seventh graders in the Escambia County School System have been awarded some serious hardware in the form of chromebooks.

The schools were recently selected to become a  part of the eMINTS program, which is designed to support the effective integration of technology and teaching.

Schools receiving training and chromebooks will be Pollard McCall, W.S. Neal Middle, Escambia County Middle and Flomaton Middle schools. Training for schools will take place over two years, with Pollard and WSNMS receiving all equipment to go with training this year, and Flomaton and Escambia County middle schools receiving full equipment next year. The county will provide the schools in training with the technology until equipment can come into affect for Flomaton and Escambia County middle schools next year.

Chromebooks have been the center of the Escambia County School system’s plans to further implement the Engaged Learning Initiative in its schools.

Last month Escambia County School’s technology coordinator Jamie Burkett spoke to the school board about the Engaged Learning Initiative, an initiative Burkett says will transcend how technology will be used in the classroom.

“Everyone calls their technology a one-to-one initiative,” Burkett said. “We talked about changing the initiative to something more inline in what we’re trying to do in this program.”

In the Engaged Learning Initiative schools will follow guidelines set by the board but schools are able to cultivate its own procedures.

“If we can get a school to start and show its benefits it’ll catch like wildfire,” Burkett said. “Schools have invested a lot of money to get this done. We’re excited. We just need rules and guidelines to get this started.”

County board superintendent John Knott said Escambia County High School junior and seniors will first implement the initiative, which will make students responsible for the Chromebook inside the classroom and out.

“What this does, a teacher assigns a Chromebook to a student and that student carries it wherever they go, including home,” Knott said. “And so, it’s truly a one-to-one type initiative. But we’re going to call it Engaged Learning. County High has taken the lead in doing this. In a lot of our schools we have the technology in play, like (W.S. Neal Middle School) and A.C Moore, but we haven’t start this initiative.”

Burkett said the opportunity to take education to the next step is a blessing in disguise with the combination of the county schools’ technological capabilities and set guidelines with the initiative.

“We’ve been able to learn there is a lot more to buying wireless internet and Chromebooks,” Burkett said.

“The reasoning we call it ‘Engaged Learning’ is because it’s a cultural change in the classroom,” he said. “Students are not just using this device for research or project work. It becomes an integrated part of how they work and learn in the classroom. So that’s the part that really distinguishes what County High will be doing, versus our middle schools where they really have plenty of technology for everyone to have their own device but they haven’t made that step yet. We’re hoping County High can be that catalyst that really helps other schools see how it can work and the benefits it brings.”

Earlier funding for Chromebooks were received from the Poarch grants in which every school purchased technology that will help move forward in pursuing Engaged Learning.

The eMINTS program’s mission is to impact teaching and learning through a powerful combination of technology and research-based strategies.