Horry County Schools selects digital device to be used in high schools next year

vgrooms@thesunnews.comMarch 11, 2014 

Horry County Schools has selected the digital device that will be distributed in the high schools next fall, as the district takes the next steps in implementing its personalized digital learning initiative.

Dell Venue 11 tablets with keyboards and cases already have been ordered for the high school teachers, said Edi Cox, HCS director of online learning/instructional technology. The tablet is Windows-based and has an attachable keyboard so it can convert to a laptop.

“[The selection] came down to what students said they wanted in all of our focus group meetings,” Cox said. “They overwhelmingly wanted the tablet with storage capability and the keyboard, not a full-fledged laptop.”

The tablet distribution in the fall will be the second phase of the PDL initiative, designed to put a digital device in each student’s hands over a three-year period, and devices are selected according to what will work best at each school level. The Horry County school board put $2.2 million toward the initiative, which goes hand-in-hand with the district’s technology plan that is being paid for with capital funds.

The initiative launched in January with 9,600 iPads for all of the district’s middle schools. The district will need about 13,000 tablets for all the students and teachers in the high schools, although exact numbers haven’t been finalized, said Charles Hucks, HCS executive director of technology. Each tablet, including accessories, will cost $600.

Teachers will begin receiving their devices April 22, while distribution for grades nine through 12 will begin Sept. 2. The PDL rollout will continue in fall 2015 for grades three through five.

The district’s digital integration specialists are beginning to work with high school teachers on how to use the devices with their curriculum, and Cox said that process will be the same as it was at the middle schools. She said high school leadership teams will begin meeting next week to design what their classrooms will look like, and at every level, they consider how to best utilize the devices to accelerate student achievement, increase student engagement and have personalized learning for each student.

Cox said having both Windows-based and Apple products being used in the schools will be good for students to get experience using different operating system platforms, because they’ll be using different systems in the workplace, but the type of device they use won’t affect their access to what they need at school.

“We’re a Google Apps for Education district,” said Cox of the service that hosts a variety of web applications for schools and universities. “A lot will be in the cloud, so it doesn’t matter where they are or what device they’re on. … They can get whatever, whenever.”

Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401.

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