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LP-A talks technology for students

When new laptop computers were presented to sophomores, juniors and seniors at Lake Park-Audubon Schools this fall, they were required to sign a user agreement that basically makes them responsible for keeping the new machines in tip-top shape, as well as for paying a $50, non-refundable technology fee before they would be given access to the machine.

Though the students are allowed to bring the laptops home with them and use them to play music, videos and games, the agreement prohibits them from using the machines for "inappropriate" purposes (downloading illegal or X-rated materials, etc.).

As district technology coordinator Bob Henderson pointed out at Monday night's LP-A School Board meeting in Lake Park, that agreement also makes the student liable for any damages to the machine caused by abuse or neglect.

"If it's a defect of the laptop, a loaner will be provided (to the student) while it's being repaired," Superintendent Dale Hogie noted.

So far, five such cases of damage to district-issued laptops have been reported, Henderson said. If it is determined that the damage was caused by abuse or neglect, the student will not be allowed to use a loaner machine, or have their repaired machine returned to them, until the damages have been paid for, he added.

"There have been some very obvious cases of abuse," added board chair Vicky Grondahl.

Also at Monday's meeting, each school board member was presented with a new laptop that contains the same software and features as the models used by the students -- but they are now required to sign the same user agreement that the students are subject to, Hogie noted.

"This really is critical," said Hogie. "We do expect a high degree of care to be taken in their use."

He also cautioned board members that their laptops should only be used for business purposes -- and that their new e-mail accounts can never be used for discussion of official board matters.

"We operate in the sunshine," he said. "(These laptops and e-mail accounts) can only be used as a means of conveying official information -- not for board discussion."

During Monday's board meeting, LP-A Elementary School Principal Sam Skaaland also brought up the possibility of finding a way to incorporate iPad technology into their classrooms.

"We need to start talking about iPads," he said. "This is an amazing machine, an amazing tool."

At the same time, Skaaland added, any plan to purchase and incorporate iPads into the classroom should be carefully thought out.

"Anything we would do, I recommend that we look at very carefully," Henderson agreed.

"I would like to get at least a few of them into our school, to see the advantages and disadvantages before we jump into it," Skaaland added.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454