Sibley East students and teachers are taking advantage of wireless technology this year.
For the start of the school year, Sibley East has added three mobile wireless computer labs. Thirty MacBooks and 30 Netbooks are available at the Gaylord campus, and there are 30 Netbooks available for the Arlington campus. The computers are stored on large carts.
Cathy Wills, Sibley East’s technology coordinator, explained that Sibley East chose to add wireless computer labs because of the lack of space in buildings and the portability of the units. The carts can be brought to the classrooms and the students can have a computer with Internet access at their desks.
The three mobile labs are in addition to four stationary computer labs at the Gaylord campus and five stationary computer labs at the Arlington campus.
Last year was the first year Sibley East tried a wireless lab – MacBook in Arlington – and it was well received.
The mobile wireless labs are stored just off the media center in Gaylord, in Room 112. Arlington’s are stored in the media center.
The wireless computers must be checked out like a book. Teachers must check out the labs on a calendar through the district Web site.
According to Wills, the new mobile, wireless labs have been well received the first week of school. “I think they will be used more this year, and there are more opportunities to use them with the A and B schedule,” she said. They are utilized by all grade levels of students.
Because of the age of the Gaylord and Arlington campuses, not all areas of the schools have wireless access. In Arlington, the high school area has wireless access, while at the Gaylord campus, wireless access is available in the media center and in the Junior High area. The elementary areas that do not have wireless access can get it through the carts.
Investing in technology is not cheap. Netbooks cost approximately $280 each, plus the cart and access. MacBooks cost about $1,100 each plus the cart and access.
Mike Feterl, computer teacher, said that the MacBooks allow the students to experience a variety of computer platforms, with access to both the PC and Mac sides. “Students experience more visual arts than they have before, in elementary, Junior High and Senior See. I see the excitement from the students.”
Laurie Kaukola, special education teacher at Gaylord, said that the mobile wireless computers have been “wonderful.” She only has one computer in her classroom. She commented that her students are “so motivated” to use the wireless computers.
In addition to the wireless labs, there are also five iPads available for checkout at the media centers in both Gaylord and Arlington.
The iPads provide Internet access and have a variety of resources, such as reading and math programs, science programs, drawing, pattern recognition, and USA Today.
The majority of elementary classrooms are also now equipped with SMART Boards.
Sibley East also has added band width for Internet access. Sibley East now has 32 megabytes of band width, up from six last year. Sibley East uses two different providers, Hickory Tech and Frontier. The school district takes advantage of the federal discount of 70% of the cost of access. The district also purchased a new firewall to protect the network from the public and to use as a content filter.