TC Williams may switch from laptops to tablets for every student

Alexandria’s technology director has recommended that the school board approve purchasing tablets for every student at the city’s high school.

Chief Technology Officer Elizabeth Hoover told the board Thursday night that tablets are less expensive and easier for teachers to manage than the laptops that students would otherwise be given.

“I’m becoming more and more passionate about our tablet use,” Hoover said, because of their speed. She said it can take 10 minutes of instructional time to turn on a laptop, while tablets turn on very quickly.

Hoover also said teachers can more easily control what students are looking at on their screens in class and can install new apps more quickly on tablets.

Alexandria has one of the longest-running 1:1 technology programs in the region, with a laptop initiative for grades 9 through 12 that dates to 2003.

This year, more than 400 students and a dozen teachers have been testing Amplify tablets, Hoover said in an interview. The tablets come with a keyboard and a case. Amplify is an online education company run by former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein and owned by Rupert Murdoch. It’s one of many companies that are creating tablets that can be used by educators.

If the school board approves Hoover’s recommendations, all students at T.C. Williams could be using the tablets as early as next fall.

Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.
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