Not your father's textbook

Nathan Liewicki
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Mark Selinger, curriculum technology consultant for the Holy Trinity Catholic School Division, picks up a pile of textbooks that will be replaced by a Google Chromebook for every Grade 9 student entering Vanier Collegiate at the start of the 2014-15 school year. The HTCSD board approved funding for 100 of the devices at a meeting Monday. 

HTCSD approves purchase of 100 devices for Vanier students

That old excuse of ‘I forgot my textbook at home’ will be thrown out the window for next year’s crop of Grade 9 students at Vanier Collegiate.

Announced Tuesday morning, but approved by Holy Trinity Catholic School Division (HTCSD) board members Monday afternoon, the youngest of Vanier’s students will each be supplied with their own Google Chromebooks when they begin the 2014-15 school year next September.

“They are small, portable, light and fast,” said Ryan Stinn, program supervisor of technology for HTCSD.

At a cost of approximately $300 each, the Chromebooks are relatively inexpensive and will provide students with an all-encompassing tool on which to keep to speed with their academics.

After listening to a presentation from Stinn, HTCSD curriculum technology consultant Mark Selinger and Vanier vice-principal Brad Moser, the board agreed to cover the costs of 100 Chromebooks, as well as extra chargers and other technological necessities.

It’s unknown where in the budget the money for the $30,000 expense will come from, but there is a possibility reserve funds could be used to cover the costs.

“Personally, I have no issue to take it out of reserve for this year,” said Moose Jaw-based trustee Patricia Gottselig. “I’m hopeful that if it is something we will do next year it will come from somewhere else.”

An early review of the project is scheduled to take place at an HTCSD board meeting sometime next fall.

However, before that review, students will be equipped with Chromebooks and experience a big educational advantage in the number of resources they can access – thanks to the eTexts.

“With eTexts students can access the resources they need from everywhere,” said Selinger. “And if a company comes out with a new print version (of a textbook), then students automatically get it in eText form.”

In addition, Selinger noted that eText provides students with more features than the print resource they would otherwise have.

That includes videos, interactive worksheets and homework assignments, as well as the ability for students to ask their teachers questions – and receive feedback – courtesy audio.

“This is a way for students to get that quick feedback – more direct and effective,” said Moser.

Essentially, Vanier’s Grade 9 students will be able to take control of their learning.

“These devices will allow us to do more interdisciplinary planning and (will make) for a smoother transition into the high school model for them,” said Moser.

What about tracking the devices?

Stinn told board members that all Chromebooks would have a serial number, making them easy to be tracked if they are misplaced.

Plus, since they are light, students will not have the enviable task of carrying a pile of textbooks from class to class.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Holy Trinity Catholic School Division, HTCSD board

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