One-to-One Laptop Schools/Henrico

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Henrico County Public Schools Laptop Initiative

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Initiative and Demographics

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Henrico County Public Schools is home to more than 50,000 students in 72 schools. Its diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population is drawn from high density urban areas, rural regions, and high-tech suburban communities. Over forty five percent of the students are minorities.[1] Henrico County Public Schools is located in Henrico County, Virginia, near Richmond.[2]

In the 2002-2003 school year, Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) launched the second phase of its Teaching and Learning Initiative. The largest such district wide technology implementation in the nation, the program has enabled the distribution of wireless iBook computers to every middle and high school student and teacher in the public school district. Thus, all (HCPS) students will have equal access to powerful digital learning tools, while teachers are creating an entirely new instructional paradigm for the twenty first century. (HCPS) chose Apple's iBook computers for several reasons, says Dr. Mark Edwards, superintendent of the district. "We considered other companies for this initiative, but selected Apple because of its long time commitment to education," Edward says. "Plus, our analysis showed us that we'd be able to service and use the Mac platform much more inexpensively than with any other systems. Most importantly, we felt that the iBook laptops offered a toolset that would be ideal for our educational environment."[1]

The phase one of this laptop initiative targeted high schools in 2001. Twelve thousand iBook systems with AirPort Wireless Cards were distributed to all middle and high school teachers and one for every high school student in the district. The phase two of this laptop initiative reached the middle school students. Every middle school student in the district received one iBook. AirPort Base Stations were installed in every middle and high school classroom. In phase two of this initiative, when parents of middle school students came to pick up their child's iBook, they were required to attend a ninety minute training session.[1]

Value and Importance

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As a result of the laptop initiative, (HCPS) officials have the utmost confidence that their students will become competent and educated members of the twenty first century society. Today over twenty seven thousand middle and high school students along with teachers are equipped with a laptop for use at home and in school. The one to one laptop initiative allows each student equal access to twenty first century tools. Since the program's onset, school officials have taken note of student's rising grades, but most importantly their rising interest in school. "It is incredible the change laptops have created in our students," says Principal Aaron Spence. "Today our students are much more organized and have access to a wealth of educational content from their laptop and from teacher created web pages to assignments." Teachers and administrators have also noticed that since the program started, school attendance has risen and students are more engaged in the classroom because in addition to traditional teaching materials, they now have dynamic and interactive educational experiences as well.[3]

Challenges of the Laptop Initiative

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When school officials decided to implement the laptop initiative, their goal was to provide a twenty first century learning environment while maintaining student safety, complying with CIPA laws and ensuring that students would use the laptops in an appropriate and educational manner. During the preliminary parents discussions, some parents voiced concerns about the potential for students to be exposed to inappropriate web content and/or online predators. "Since we use Mac iBooks for grades 6 to 8, and Dell laptops for grades 9 to 12, we needed a solution that supports both platforms," added Lloyd Brown, Director of Technology for (HCPS). In addition, like most schools with limited IT resources and overburdened staff, (HCPS) were concerned about how much time and effort it would take to implement and maintain a remote laptop filtering solution. "The key is centralized administration," says Brown. The solution to this challenge was to address the growing use of laptops in schools, Marshal8e6 developed the 8e6 Mobile Client to filter and secure off-site students from accessing inappropriate and malicious web content. As a software-based application that works in conjunction with the R3000 Mobile appliance, the Mobile Client has a centralized configuration and remote administration. The auto-network detection allows for a seamless internal and external web filtering experience, making it completely transparent to students and tamper-proof. Finally, the Mobile Client has the same advanced filtering options as the R3000 Internet filter, including:

  • Google and Yahoo Safe Search enforcement
  • Search engine and URL keyword filtering
  • Configurable user lockout
  • Anonymous proxy blocking[3]

The 8e6 Mobile client also works in conjunction with the Enterprise Reporter, a dedicated appliance that processes and displays Internet filtering logs without compromising filtering speed or performance, or impacting network functions. With cross-referenced and customized reporting that details reports by user name, machine name, IP address, or MAC address, the Enterprise Reporter helps IT administrators cut down on the amount of time they spend creating reports. "The 8e6 Mobile Client has integrated seamlessly into our network and works perfectly with the R3000 Internet filter and Enterprise Reporter. We are now able to monitor, filter, and report Internet activity throughout our schools on-site or off-site," says Lloyd Brown. "We first started using Marshal8e6's Internet filtering solution in 2002 and we have been pleased with it ever since. The 8e6 Mobile Client has increased our sastifaction," Mr. Brown says. "Marshal8e6 has proved to stand behind its product and service. (HCPS) staff appreciates the fact that there is only one number to call for support. But the best thing of all is that the Mobile Client simply does its job well. It has saved the school considerable expense and our students are protected, our network is secure and parents are informed that their kids are being filtered."[3]

Greatest Success

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"The bottom line is that our children are ready. The world is moving forward and our purpose is to do everything possible to ensure our children will thrive in that future world with the experience they receive today. The future is now. Our children can't wait," (Henrico County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Edwards). The impact on student achievement as a result of this laptop initiative has been a great success. In eleven core curricular tests, students improved on nine, remained on level on one and lost two points on another. The greatest one year gains on the end of course tests came in three subjects, History, Reading, and Writing content areas where laptops were used the most. Also the state test results showed even the greatest skeptics of one to one laptop use to take another look due to the lowest ever dropout rate in Henrico's history of 1.52%.[4] (HCPS)'s commitment to professional development gave teachers the skills and tools to be effective. Staff development included curriculum writing workshops, summer institutes, site-based institutes, a full time trainer in each high school and middle school, and training CDs and videotapes. (HCPS) implemented the following principles instrumental to the success of a laptop program:

  • Think big
  • Find a business partner
  • Sweat the details-network capability is a key issue
  • Listen to and train the teachers
  • Enlist the broadest possible support-administration, principals, teachers, students, PTA, business, and community leaders.
  • Reach out to parents-provide parent resource centers and offer parent training[5]


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(HCPS) have shown great strides and success with their laptop initiative. When implemented correctly with the instrumental principles that make a laptop initiative successful any school district in the world can be remarkably successful with a one to one laptop initiative. (HCPS) had an effective plan in place to overcome the challenges of the one to one laptop initiative. They also had educational goals and a future vision of what they hope for their students to achieve in a twenty first century society. (HCPS) are a role model of a victorious one to one laptop initiative.


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