Schools get new tech in classes: $400,000 use to buy tech for students

About 1,800 new computers will be distributed to Columbus area students starting next week in preparation for a new school year.

Chromebooks are issued to Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. first- through eighth-grade students, while high school students receive laptops. Kindergarten students have access to Apple iPads and Chromebooks in their classrooms, but do not take their devices home with them.

About one in six of the district’s 11,500 students will receive a new computer, an investment of about $400,000. They will receive their new devices on a schedule that starts Wednesday in one school and finishes on Aug. 8, said Mike Jamerson, BCSC technology director. However, most students will receive their computer Aug. 3, the first day of classes.

There won’t be much change for most of the district students, who will likely use the same computers they were assigned during the 2016-17 school year. The same device follows a student as they move up through grade levels or to new buildings, superintendent Jim Roberts said.

However, individuals entering ninth grade at Columbus North and Columbus East high schools will transition from Chromebooks to laptops, Jamerson said.

Each computer that is issued comes with content filter software that allows school officials to monitor what students are doing on the Internet while using their devices and whether their searches and activity are allowed under school corporation policies.

New filtering software will be in effect this school year after the school board approved a three-year agreement in May with ContentKeeper for $103,371 that will support faster Internet speeds and allow administrators to have better control over users, Jamerson said.

The filter will remain in effect even when students take their devices home, Jamerson said.

One of the advantages to the school corporation’s approach to technology is that class content is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, accessible if a student is out sick or if a teacher is not in school but wants to monitor progress. The computers also have accessibility tools to help all users learn, Roberts said.

Having content online allows teachers to set up resources to help students who might be struggling or provide more incentive to those who need encouragement to work harder, he said.

Computer distribution schedule

  • Columbus East High School will distribute computers July 26 to Aug. 1 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Schedules and books will be available beginning July 28.
  • Columbus North High School will distribute computers beginning Aug. 3.
  • Columbus Signature Academy – New Tech Campus will distribute computers on Aug. 3.
  • Computers will be distributed to students at Central Middle School on Aug. 7 and 8.
  • Computers will be distributed to students at Northside Middle School who are in the 8th grade on Aug. 7 and to students in 7th grade on Aug. 8.
  • Computers assigned to elementary students in grades 1 through 6 will be in their classrooms for the start of school on Aug. 3.
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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com