New School Year, New Tablets

Johnson Street students with tablets It wasn’t their first day of school, but it was still a big day for middle school students at Johnson Street Global Studies. That’s because they were the first school to receive the more durable and upgraded tablets, and the students couldn’t wait to try them out.

“We use them for assignments and taking notes,” said eighth-grader Brittney Smith. “It’s easier to type than to write everything out with a pen and paper.”

Students with with new tablets “These tablets will be used for everything students do in the classroom,” said Dr. Jake Henry, executive director of instructional technology. “Teachers will send their students assignments, students can access books and videos for supplemental education and students will be able to join in discussions and collaborate on projects with one another.”

The Guilford County Board of Education approved a new contract with Amplify in March, which provides new tablets, designed in collaboration with Intel Education, for more than 19,200 students, teachers, administrators and parents. The contract also extends the partnership with GCS one additional year.

According to Amplify, the new tablet “features a durable industrial design that can withstand drops and spills; a break- and scratch-resistant screen made of Corning® Gorilla® Glass; an advanced Wi-Fi radio; and a tethered stylus.” The tablets also have better connectivity and improved processor speed.

The tablets are part of the PACE initiative, funded by a $35.2 million Race to the Top-District grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The program launched in 18 middle schools in the 2013-14 school year with Amplify tablets manufactured by ASUS. GCS suspended the program in early October 2013 after concerns about the quality and safety of the tablets and related items.

Students say they’re excited about their new tablets.

“They’re good,” says Justin Hyatt. “They’re bigger and everything seems more organized.”

All middle school students are expected to have their tablets by Nov. 10.