MAPS initiative pairs students with computers

The Technology in Marquette Education 1:1 Initiative plans to pair each fifth grade student with a Chromebook by the fall of 2012 with help from community donations.

Marquette Area Public Schools celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Day in part by exhibiting a new initiative that will help students get a head start in technology.

The MAPS Education Foundation introduced the Technology in Marquette Education 1:1 Initiative at Cherry Creek Elementary School Tuesday. The project plans to pair every fifth grader in the district with a Chromebook by the fall of 2014. MAPS officials believe that adding this aspect to the classroom will complement the way students are already learning outside of school.

“Our students today are wired this way,” said MAPS Superintendent Bill Saunders. “They learn at home. They’re on their smartphones. They’re on their iPads. That’s what draws their attention. That’s how they’re learning outside the classrooms, so we need to infuse more technology, because that’s really the best way to start to teach them inside the classroom.”

“Part of it is, is just that’s what they’ve grown up with,” MAPS Technology Director Craig Lindstrom added. “They’ve used this technology all of their life. It may only be a couple times a week that they can get into the computer lab, and in all their other work they can’t use technology to get at it. This replaces that, takes care of that issue.”

The Education Foundation has already raised about a third of the project’s financial goal through contributions from businesses and individuals. In addition to applying for grants, the Foundation is looking to the community for donations to support the purchase of equipment for the nine MAPS fifth grade classrooms.

“Any amount is welcome, and we just want a lot of people excited about the initiative and thinking it’s a good idea,” said T.I.M.E. Committee Chair Judy Vonck.

“It’s really always amazing, putting together a dollar here and a dollar there. Before long, all of that adds up, and you end up with a significant amount of money to do what you have to do,” said MAPS Education Foundation President Tom Baldini.

The 1:1 Initiative was planned by the MAPS Technology Think Tank, which is composed of teachers, administrators, and community members. For more information, visit the T.I.M.E. website.