As first schools get laptops, teachers worried about training - KCTV5

As first schools get laptops, teachers worried about lack of training

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Parents of students in the Kansas City Public Schools are gathering Thursday night for a special meeting to help them get their child ready for a new digital education.

The thought behind the change to more digital learning is that moving beyond a traditional computer lab and into mobile technology will keep modern-day students up-to-date- on ever-changing information and curriculum.

"It's critical, 21st century learning requires it now. It's a prerequisite to being able to have 24/7 learning. Their textbooks will be on these devices, their textbooks will be up-to-date," said Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green.

That's why the Kansas City, MO, school district will be delivering its first round of laptops this month to the three of its schools selected to be "the pilot Digital Learning Initiative schools."

But teachers' union president Andrea Flinders strongly criticized the school board in July, saying that teachers wouldn't be ready to handle the change to take home laptops in one school year and that they've had little preparation.

"My comments to the board did wake people up. The district did agree to pull the committee together," Flinders said.

The plan will be rolled out in the following way: Only three schools will get laptops in the first phase – Carver and James Elementary and Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. Only high school students will get to take them home.

But Flinders said that on the eve of the rollout at Carver, teachers still have had little training.

"They were a little concerned because they have not been brought up-to-speed on exactly what exactly is going on other than these computers are coming in," she said.

Green said a poll taken this summer showed strong interest in the digital changeover and said teachers at Carver wanted it. As for training, Green says there's still more planned.

"It's not a matter of ‘we'll train you and we won't train anymore and then you just do it.' It's really a matter of intertwining the training and the implementation and, as they learn, we'll learn with them," he said.

While only three schools will have laptops for its students by the end of September, Kansas City Public Schools plans to have them in every students' hands by the end of the school year in May.

The first of the three meetings for parents will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday at Carver. Their goal is to give parents and students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the chosen laptops and with the digital curriculum that will drive the project.

A meeting will be held for Lincoln Prep parents only at the school on Monday at 6:30 p.m.

Another will be held at James Elementary for its parents on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m.

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