Public school students on the road to bridge the ‘digital divide’

By Charles Sercombe

When many of Hamtramck public school students return to school next fall, the classroom experience will never be the same.

Thanks to a multi-million dollar federal stimulus for the public schools, most of the classrooms will be high-tech.

In the first phase of the plan, students in fifth to eighth grades will each receive a mini-notebook computer to use throughout the day. Teachers will also be using what’s called an interactive whiteboard, which will likely replace chalkboards in the near future.

Students will have Internet access while in school, but that doesn’t mean they can spend the day on Facebook. Teachers will be able to monitor what students are viewing.

Unfortunately, students won’t be able to take home the computers. But considering the number of households here in the city that don’t have the Internet at home, this is a big step in bridging the “digital divide,” said Bob Rice, who has been organizing the upgrade in technology for the schools.

Rice said although some of the students may not be as tech savvy as their counterparts in wealthier school districts, he said they’ll understand how the modern classroom experience works “right away.”

But the getting-up-to-speed time frame for teachers might take longer. That’s why they will be receiving training during the summer break and during next fall.

Rice said not only will students like using computers for their class lessons and assignments, the experience will likely make school “fun.”

Now there’s a word most students don’t use when describing going to school.

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