Greensboro, NC -- You may not have a tablet, but thanks to a grant, Guilford County Middle school students do. Before school started, 2WTK found out they're being tracked in case they're lost or stolen. We also touched on how they can't be converted into tablets you and I could use.
But now 2 Wants to Know how the tablets have been working so far and how we know students aren't surfing the web instead of doing their work.
"All I do is I click 'Go research' and their tablet comes up just like this and you see 'GOORU' on the tablet screen," says Tammy Balser. She teaches 7th grade social studies at Northwest Middle School.
"GOORU" is an education-focused search engine used on the tablets. It opens the world for students right at their desks
"On your tablet you should see A/B/C. If you're having trouble finding research on your explorer, you're going to type in A."
This polling feature allows the teacher to get an idea of what the kids are learning as they use the internet for research.
Mrs. Balser explains to us and her students how it works. "I can sit here and say these people that are A. They're not finding much information. I can go right to you. You don't have to raise your hand, and tell me you're not finding anything. I already know because you're name is here."
Mrs. Balser says, "It's very helpful. I know instantly I need to go to that child that needs the extra help."
Before you think student exploration could take away from their other class work, the teacher does have ultimate control. The teacher's view of the tablet shows each student and whatever they're working on is listed.
"We have button we can hit that says app blocker. And it blocks everything on there or we can have certain apps we allow them on and they can't get on to anything else.
And if Mrs. Balser needs to, "If I click on eyes on teacher, it blocks their computer." All the students see on their tablet is "Eyes on teacher."
A pretty restrictive firewall blocks inappropriate content. In fact teachers have had to ask the district to allow access to sites like Learnzillion and National Geographic.
Dr. Jake Henry, Executive Director of Instructional Technology, says "I'd much rather prefer to unblock sites than to have to go and block sites that we have learned aren't appropriate for students.
Like any new technology, the tablets haven't been completely trouble free. They've had internet connection issues,. stuff we all deal with. They've had a few lost, but they've already been returned. And interestingly enough, about 16 tablets were stolen from the district before students even got them but none since.