Students at Belleville Christian School (BCS) are excited about 25 new computers, says principal Jennifer Richmond.
The computers, installed at the school over the summer break, are a welcome change to allow students more flexibility.
“We’re really happy, and now the kids are just busting to get in there,” says Richmond.
The refurbished IBM computers were purchased from the school’s recent Home Sweet Home fundraiser, which raised money earmarked for capital projects. ChoiceCom, a local company, donated much of the labour and an IBM Xseries Server.
Last year the school’s computer lab had reached a “crisis point” when only 11 of the 25 computers were working well, says Richmond. Students were experiencing problems losing their work and could only access documents through floppy disks.
“It was just really discouraging; the staff and the students didn’t have reliable technology and projects were getting lost, it was just a frustration,” says Richmond.
She says there were also compatibility problems, with students at using Windows XP on their computers at home while the school had an older operating system. “My dream lab was where for example my daughter could work on a book report at home in Word and be able to come to school and bring it up,” she says.
A committee of parent volunteers, many who work in the IT field or in education, collaborated to determine which software programs to install on the machines. The result, says Richmond, is a cross-curricular nature of computer technologies.
Some of the ways students are using the computers include the Grade 4 students accessing feeds from deep space telescopes, Grade 6 students using WebQuest to compare various cultures and Grade 7 students researching their projects. Other programs students use includes an engineering program that designs bridges and a program that allows students to create their own video games.
“It’s very visual and they learn how to program, it’s just a simplified programming language but it teaches them the principles of (creating games),” she says.
Richmond says the new technology is a great tool “that provides our students with a safe and enriching window through which to view, discern and learn about our world.”