Friday, December 19, 2008

Dane's latest project

Note added by me: The video clip at the bottom has an issue! It works, but the frames have been compressed. In the original version done by Dane, the little man walks smoothly across the screen and sets up the chair. In the version loaded here, it appears choppy. Apparently, I need my computer expert (Dane) to mess with it. I'll have him work on it later!

As I've mentioned before, each incoming freshman at RHS is given a laptop at the beginning of the school year. At the end of the school year, the laptops are returned to the school for maintenance, and returned to the student when school resumes. This occurs each year until they graduate, at which point the students exit out one door, while the computer heads into the "land of the obsolete". This is a pretty darn cool opportunity, as it makes a huge difference in leveling the playing field in an economically-diverse district. There are no issues between the "haves" and the "have-nots" being able to research on the internet, etc. Most of their textbooks are loaded on their computers, the kids submit a large amount of their homework by email, and they all function off of wireless internet access. Printers are available on campus as needed for the kids that don't have them at home. The school has wisely even acknowledged that it is unavoidable that the kids WILL use them as toys, to some extent, so they have wisely loaded a few games for the entire group, and many of them play large involved games via the internet.

I admit to being a tad worried about the social-networking end of things when this school year started. My boys are no strangers to computers, but there is a big difference to using the home computer vs. having your OWN that goes everywhere with you, and all of your school mates having the exact same programs, etc. Dane has gotten involved with the social networking, but so far (fingers crossed), it has been a positive thing. He chats online in the evenings and weekends with friends about upcoming athletic events, assignments, and other normal freshman-type stuff. The potential for problems is certainly there, but that is typical to life in general, isn't it? As long as he continues to behave is actually putting him in touch with kids that he otherwise wouldn't normally probably communicate with, simply due to a difference in activities. So......all the more power to them!

The school also has acknowledged that, since they are putting a lot of money and effort into this computer commitment, they want the kids to learn how to do a bit more than play and email assignments. So, all the kids take a course in computer applications. The instructor is very well-liked and, as a parent, I have great respect for his course content! The kids get to use a lot of individuality in their assignments and scheduling, so the content doesn't seem like work to them! Dane has had a blast so far, and I'm impressed with what he is accomplishing! He finished all of his required assignment submissions early, so he ended up with a work or two of "play time" before Christmas break. The below clip is an example of his work, and my personal favorite! I sincerely hope that our district is able to continue the laptop program despite the coming economic cuts. Computers are in the world to stay! If we can provide these kids with a solid basis in computer skills, they've got a great advantage as they head off to college and the job markets!

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