GREENVILLE — Greenville Public Schools and Verizon Wireless have partnered to launch the pilot of the school’s Mobile One to One project.
The project, which was announced at the beginning of the school year, officially launched Tuesday with 450 students.
Half of the students were given Samsung Galaxy Tablets while the other 225 were given Droid X2s.
“Verizon has structured a plan for Greenville Public Schools that has not been done before on this scale,” said Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Pete Haines.
The Mobile One to One pilot cost about $185,000, but the school was able to receive grants through Title Six for technology integration.
Haines said the idea of the project is not just about giving a large amount of students handheld technology to use during the day, but also to give the students and their teachers the ability to stay connected in and out of school.
Although the devices are powered by Verizon and its 3G network, the devices are filtered through Greenville Public Schools no matter where the student is. Students will only be able to access at home what they would be able to access if they were using a computer on campus.
“This is about learning without boundaries,” Haines said. “It’s truly that much different than other districts with Netbooks, laptops or other devices in a ratio of one per student. Those typically mean limited access to networked recourses. This is unlimited.”
Heidi Olesko, data sales manager for Verizon Wireless, said the company is doing case studies throughout the United States to monitor test results for students who are using the devices.
Olesko said the partnership with Greenville Public Schools is unique because the school wanted to take its own path and played a key role in controlling the access.
“We are excited to be a partner,” Olesko said.
With students using the mobile devices, math teacher David Fortino said the classroom will be more student-centered instead of teacher-centered. Students will be able to communicate with their peers and help each other learn and operate outside of the classroom.
The Mobile One to One project is not only pushing students to broaden their ability to learn through technology, but it’s also pushing teachers to make the technology transition as well.
“It will help us grow as a department,” Fortino said. “It will give the kids an opportunity to teach (teachers) as well.”
Fortino said he excited to push the students to find free learning tools that are available through the devices and have them share the tools with him and others and the school.
With the way technology is advancing, more and more items are able to come into the classroom to help students learn.
“This is the way we are heading,” he said of the technology.
Fortino said he would rather be a little ahead with the technology than to fall behind.
“This is a great opportunity,” Fortino said. “I am optimistically nervous.”
Freshman Kelsey Adams said she is looking forward to being able ask questions when she is working on homework instead of having to wait until the next day. When it comes to the technology advances in the classroom, Adams said she is all for it.
“Everyone learns differently,” she said. “The devices will be able to help students learn better.”
Freshman Sarah Newhouse agreed about being able to communicate after school to get help, especially for students who do not have Internet access at home.
“I think it is cool what we can do with (the devices),” Newhouse said.
Students participating the pilot are fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth grades between Baldwin Heights Elementary School and Greenville High School.
Greenville Public School’s long-term goal is to have a device for all of the students.