DPS to purchase 40,000 laptop computers for teachers, students in grades 6-12

Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542
Kisha Verdusco at 313-873-4546

DPS to purchase 40,000 laptop computers for teachers, students in grades 6-12Detroit Public Schools will invest more than $49.4 million in classroom school technology upgrades, thanks to federal stimulus funding that is being used to purchase 40,000 new netbook computers and more than 5,000 desktop computers, as well as multi-purpose printer/scanners for every classroom in the district, Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb announced today.

“An infusion of technology on this scale is unprecedented in Detroit Public Schools, and will truly create 21st century learning environments,” Bobb said. “This investment will ensure that any barriers to technological accessibility are removed for our students and open up their classrooms to the world.”

Every DPS student in grades 6-12 and every teacher in the district will receive or have access to an ASUS EEE Netbook, as part of a massive technology infusion that began last summer with the distribution of HP desktop computers, 4550 document cameras and 4,291 multi-purpose printer/scanners. An additional 533 HP desktop computers were purchased for the 138 early childhood classrooms in the district, and Wayne RESA received $1.5 million in Title I grant funds to purchase 273 SMART Boards for the district’s 38 School Improvement Grant buildings.

SMART Boards are touch-sensitive display screens that can replace traditional classroom white boards. Document cameras are devices that can capture images in real time for display on large screens. They operate like overhead projectors, but are also able to magnify and project three-dimensional objects, in addition to transparencies or textbook pages.

All teachers received their netbooks and were trained on using them in December. The district plans to offer additional training for teachers to integrate the use of technology in their lessons.

In late February, 21,600 student netbooks will begin arriving in school buildings. They will be equipped with Microsoft Windows 7 Professional, Microsoft Office, virus protection service, built-in wireless networking and integrated speakers, microphones and cameras. They will have wireless internet access, which will allow students to access online textbooks and tools such as Learning Village, an education portal.

The netbooks are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The additional computers will be used to provide more project-based and problem-solving learning opportunities for students. Students will be able to conduct Web research, develop PowerPoint presentations and access text books and tutoring programs.

“The educational possibilities for our students are virtually endless, now that they will have the Internet at their fingertips,” said Chief Academic and Accountability Auditor Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “Principals have designed curriculum plans around the new technology, so these valuable tools are used in the most effective way to enhance teaching and learning. We are currently reviewing the plans to determine which schools will be the first to receive the netbooks.”

The technology infusion coincides with DPS’ renewed emphasis on the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects, including strengthening the academic curriculum, resurrecting its relationship with the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) at the high school level and increasing student access to and participation in science fairs.

“The purchase of these netbooks represents a tremendous step forward to enhance the ability of our students to compete in the global economy,” said Detroit Public Schools Board of Education President Anthony Adams. “We are now on the cutting edge of the technological learning curve, and once fully integrated into our academic programming they will allow our team to created a world-class academic learning system for our children.”

Because laptops are frequent targets of theft, the netbooks will be equipped with a variety of theft-deterrent features.

“We are dedicating all resources available to us to protect these netbooks,” said DPS Inspector General Wilbert Van Marsh. “If any are stolen, we are prepared to work with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office, FBI and other agencies to ensure prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

Among the most prominent features is the DPS “I’m In” logo engraved on the front of each computer, making it difficult for thieves to disguise their origin.

The computers are equipped with Absolute’s Computrace technology, which can help the district to quickly track down stolen computers.

Commonly called Lo-Jack for Laptops, Computrace also allows district law enforcement to remotely erase and/or disable the computers, which renders the stolen hardware useless.

DPS police will conduct heightened surveillance of school buildings from the state-of-the-art police headquarters building that will be completed in early 2011. Schools are receiving additional alarms, motion sensors and cameras that can be remotely monitored from the Public Safety Headquarters, as part of a $41.7 million security plan.

Officers with the DPS Office of Inspector General and the DPS Police Department will brief pawn shop operators on the netbooks, so they can immediately recognize and return stolen property.

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