GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Guilford County Schools is launching its tablet program for the second time. Nearly 20,000 middle schoolers will receive a tablet to use in the classroom and to take home to work on their assignments. GCS gave out tablets last year, but students only got them for 29 days before they were taken away because of overheating and cracking.
"We learned some lessons from last year, we know that there are things that we can do better and we have done much better this year. This morning is a testament to how much better we're doing. Things went so smoothly just because we're better prepared," said Teena Martain, a personalized learning environment facilitator for GCS.
The school system said the new and improved tablets come at no extra cost to taxpayers. The money to pay for them comes from a federal grant. The school system has a three-year contract with Amplify, which supplies the tablets, and made the improvements to the tablets for this year. It's also giving the school system an extra year for free because of last year's mishaps.
"They just work a little better than the ones did last year. So, Amplify really listened to the concerns and problems that Guilford County gave them and took the tablets to the next level for us," GCS media specialist Ashley Morgan said.
This go around, the school system said the tablets are more durable and can withstand drops and spills. The tablets also have break-and-scratch proof screens, better internet connections and stronger protective cases. The school system said the tablets help with its goal to improve "personalized learning" in the classroom. "Personalized learning" is where teachers can specialize assignments to meet students skill-levels.
"We can provide differentiated instruction for our students, but we're also providing them with some 24th century technology tools. So we're kind of engaging them on the level where their interest lies," Morgan said.
Another change this year, students won't be taking their tablets home right away. Teachers will spend a week going over how to take care of the technology and then students will have to pass a written test before they can bring them home.