Some students at Edmondson Heights Elementary School thought they were playing a game when they got to test the latest smartphones, tablets and other technological devices.
But Baltimore County school officials really wanted their feedback as they worked to create the Lighthouse Schools pilot program, said Edmondson Heights Principal David Proudfoot.
Edmondson Heights is one of 10 in the county helping pilot the program that eventually will be in place at all schools, according to a statement from the school system. Schools officials are expected to kick off the program with an announcement Tuesday.
“They said, ‘Oh, we have to go back to school?’ They saw it as a game or something fun,” Proudfoot said of his students’ reaction to getting to test the devices.
Besides Edmondson Heights, the selected schools are: Chase, Church Lane, Fort Garrison, Halstead, Hawthorne, Joppa View, Lansdowne, Mays Chapel, and Rodgers Forge elementary schools.
The Lighthouse program, part of the county’s Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow initiative, is a five-year effort to integrate technology into schools so each student will have one-to-one access to devices like smartphones and tablets, Proudfoot said.
“The county’s goal is to make sure all students graduating are to be able to be globally competitive,” he said.
Feedback on the devices from the students included a preference to the devices being one unit, rather than having a detached keyboard, for example, Proudfoot said. Students also wanted to be able to prop up the devices to make looking at them easier, he said.
But being a Lighthouse School is more than just having access to technology, Proudfoot said. The curriculum also will become interactive, he said.
The devices will come next year. This year’s focus is on professional development and training teachers.
Officials also have to get the building ready for wireless Internet, said Assistant Principal Juliet McDivitt. Wireless Internet as it is in the building now is “patchy,” she said.
Officials are excited about what being a Lighthouse School means for teachers, students and their parents, McDivitt said.
“For students and the community, it’s energizing to be on the forefront of improving education. It’s going to shift how we approach education,” she said.