K-12 and Public schools and Internet and Education & Workforce Development and Technology

School district to take science instruction online

April 17, 2011

Students in a central Indiana community will soon get their science instruction online instead of through textbooks, but the technology will come at a price.

The Franklin school board has approved buying a digital science curriculum instead of books for Grades 1-8. More than 400 used laptop computers from the high school will be moved to the science classrooms, but school officials are still studying how many more computers each building will need.

Board members are considering a new $20 technology fee to lower the cost of new computers. The $9.50 the students currently pay to rent science books will be used to pay the $60,000 licensing charge for the Discovery Education science program created by the Discovery Channel.

Teachers and parents reviewed science books and chose the online program, the Daily Journal reported.

Assistant Superintendent Vickie Davis said teachers think the online program will better engage students because it offers photos and videos and is constantly updated with new state standards and the latest information.

The program offers reading lessons at different levels of difficulty. Students can log into the program at home or check out a laptop to use if they don't have access to a home computer.

Superintendent David Clendening said he won't know how much the district will need to spend on new computers until next month, a fact that rankled some board members.

"You're asking us to adopt this without us understanding the full financial implications," board president Darren Thompson said.

Clendening said the district won't buy mass quantities of computers because the district already plans to use a $450,000 loan to buy laptops for high school students. High school students will continue to use textbooks.

Indiana school districts buy new textbooks each year. Subjects are due for renewal every six years.

Center Grove officials say they also are considering using the digital curriculum but are weighing the costs against other needs.

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