Carrying a tablet computer with a 7-inch screen is a lot easier than lugging around a backpack full of heavy textbooks — and more helpful too, Ramona High School students say.
“It’s better than textbooks,” senior Destiny Moore said.
Moore said she uses her tablet’s dictionaries, applications for teachers’ notes and the textbooks loaded on it.
Ramona is the first comprehensive public high school in California, and the third in the nation, to go all digital, Riverside Unified School District officials said. It replaced several hundred dollars worth of textbooks for each student with a single android tablet computer. Officials hope someday to replace textbooks at every school with similar devices.
The district purchased the Coby tablets for about $165 each with a $500,000 grant from the federal Enhancing Education Through Technology fund and $150,000 from Microsoft Office settlement funds, said Jay McPhail, director of instructional technology.
Tenth-grader Katelyn Kenzy said she not only uses her tablet for textbooks, she also looks up words she doesn’t know in both chemistry and Spanish classes.
When her Spanish teacher, Jacqueline Campos, gives directions in that language and Kenzy doesn’t understand a word, she looks it up right away, she said.
Earphones can be used to listen to foreign-language lessons too, Campos said.
Moore, one of Kenzy’s Spanish 2 classmates, said the device has its own calculator. She uses it to graph quadratic equations and parabolic curves in Algebra 2, and it helps her understand the concepts better.
She also appreciates an application that saves teachers’ presentations every day and each student’s work.
It automatically copies the notes teachers present in class every day and assignments as well as the student’s work. It reconnects and updates each time the device comes back to a wireless Internet connection, McPhail said.
Students are responsible for the device just like they are responsible for textbooks, he said.
Mary Davis, the mother of a ninth-grader, said she bought insurance the school offers through a third-party.
“For $32, I get the peace of mind that if it gets lost or broken, I don’t have to replace it,” she said.
Davis said she is learning to use it to check her son’s homework, assignments, grades and attendance.
Principal Susan Mills said such information is why Ramona got the grant. The school has offered parents three training sessions.
A single screen display shows each class on the student’s schedule and a green or red dot indicating whether the student turned in homework for that class. A touch of the teacher’s name shows assignments.
That screen also shows how many credits the student has earned and how many credits more he or she needs to graduate. It shows the student’s grade-point average and class rank as well.
Mills said teachers update students’ grades online every week.