March 18, 2014

Peru replacing laptops with tablets

New devices part of $1.7 million technology overhaul in district.

By Carson Gerber For the Pharos-Tribune

---- — PERU — Peru Community Schools has purchased 1,100 new Microsoft Surface Pro Hybrid Tablets that will be available to students and teachers next school year.

The tablets will be used in the junior and high schools and replace the district’s aging laptops used in classrooms.

The tablet purchase is just one part of a $1.7 million technology upgrade funded by an $8 million bond issue approved last year by the Peru school board.

The money will pay for new computer servers, routers, switches and a boost in Internet bandwidth within the district.

The tablets cost nearly $600,000.

Stanley Hall, director of finance and operations, said the devices are meant to supplement teaching in the classroom and students won’t be allowed to take them home.

“It’s a tool. It doesn’t replace the teacher,” he said. “It’s just another learning source. … There’s no pressure or requirement saying teachers have to use them, but some of our younger teachers already are.”

George Morris, technology solutions and systems administrator for the district, said the tablets will accelerate learning in the classroom and help integrate students with 21st century technology.

“Technology is something that should enable, facilitate and streamline what we do,” he said. “It should never become a nuisance, or hinder learning. If it slows the learning process down, even a little, or fails to accelerate learning, then its usefulness has become null and void.”

Assistant Superintendent Ken Hanson said the district will purchase more tablets to be used at Blaire Pointe Elementary in the 2015-16 school year.

With all the technology upgrades coming, he said district should be set for the inevitable technological changes that will come in future years.

“We just want to make sure we’re good to go for the next 10 to 15 years,” Hanson said. “We want to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology.”