New England Secondary School Consortium


R.I. Schools Move Away from Pencils, Paper, Books — and into the Cloud

From the Providence Journal

Published September 8, 2014
By Linda Borg

In growing numbers, Rhode Island schools are moving away from paper and pencil to laptops, from books and notepads to the “cloud.”

Coventry has just purchased 2,700 Chromebooks, a Google-based laptop, one for every student in grades 6 through 12.

Chariho, a regional school district, has handed out about 1,100 MacBook Air laptops to each of its high school students.

Cumberland has acquired 1,132 Chromebooks for its middle-school students.

And West Warwick is buying almost 3,500 Chromebooks, one for every student, a project that began last year.

“Kids use technology,” said Coventry Supt. Michael Almeida. “What we did in the past is tell them to shut [their devices] down. We stopped them from learning the way they learn. But when they go to college, the workplace or the military, they will have technology at their fingertips.

“Kids need access to technology,” he said. “We’re moving from power down to power up.”

Although the school year is young, the new technology is already transforming what goes on in the classroom. In a Coventry High School Advanced Placement biology class, students are working in small groups, but they are communicating via their laptops, asking questions and revising their work.

“We’re all sharing the same information on a Google document,” said Lisa Thiele, a senior. “It’s easier to collaborate, and we’re getting work done faster.”

In a Coventry High School math class, the teacher has assigned each student to draft a fantasy football team, which relies on an understanding of statistics and probability.

Going digital is enabling students and teachers to have conversations in real time in the classroom and outside the school’s doors.

Teachers can post assignments and students can post their homework on line, which teachers can then correct in a shared Google document. If a student misses a day, the teacher can post his lesson online. If a child is absent for a long period, she can stay current with his courses.


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