News Column

Manteca Unified orders 23,000 new tablet/laptops

July 3, 2014

By Joe Goldeen, The Record, Stockton, Calif.



July 03--MANTECA -- Students in the Manteca Unified School District will be among the first in the nation to receive a new computer specifically built for the K-12 education market.

The 3E by manufacturer Panasonic was created in collaboration with Intel and Microsoft to meet the targeted needs of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

Manteca Unified is the first large district in the nation committed to purchasing the devices for the fall, one for each of its 23,000 students. Each unit costs less than $500, considerably less than similar devices on the retail market.

The total cost is about one-third of the district's $30 million Going Digital 2015 project aimed at preparing students for 21st century technologies by not only providing them with the digital skills they will need but ensuring they know how to use them successfully.

"Our challenge is supporting students in this journey," district Superintendent Jason Messer said in introducing the initiative.

The 3E computer is a rugged 2-in-1 convertible device featuring a 10-inch touchscreen tablet that comes with a detachable keyboard making it work like a laptop computer. It also comes with an active stylus. Its battery should last a full school day before recharging is required.

The 3E was introduced to the public on Sunday during the International Society of Technology in Education Conference in Atlanta, Ga., and Messer was there along with leaders from Panasonic, Intel and Microsoft to deliver an address focusing on the importance of technology in preparing students for real-world skills.

"As educators, it is our imperative to support extended learning and expose students to the tools and environment that await them in the work world," Messer said. "Devices that are purpose-built for K-12 education, like the 3E, are ideal to meet the needs of this market and help the students leap into the digital age."

Rance Poehler, president of Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America, said, "Any one of our companies could design and develop a mobile computing solution for the education market. Delivering a solution was not our goal. We wanted to deliver the solution to the challenges faced specifically by K-12 students and educators."

Messer said Wednesday regarding the purchase commitment that he is excited about the future of education for Manteca Unified students.

"I think it's extremely significant," he said. "This is really delivering something special to the education world. It's at a price point we can manage. It's rugged enough. ... The reality is it's a complete solution."

He said the 3E will include the complete Microsoft suite of software along with "amazing software from Intel" along with the ability to access online textbooks, science experiments and tests.

It allows teachers the ability to deliver personalized learning to specific students while maintaining whole group instruction. Messer also touted the fact the manufacturers went back to the drawing board following suggestions from educators to add an active stylus that allows students to take notes.

Each 3E also includes:

-- An attachable magnifying lens that turns the camera into a microscope.

-- A temperature probe for lab experiments.

-- Rugged technology able to withstand 3-foot drops in addition to being spill and dust resistant. Such a level of ruggedness increases where and how lessons can be taught and reduces the risk of replacing the device.

-- The ability for students to collaborate using reversible docking.

Teachers have the ability to control what the students are doing by viewing or unlocking their devices to ensure everyone is on the same page and following the lesson.

Messer has already heard from several school superintendents, including educators in Texas and Florida, interested in his perspective on the 3E device.

"It's the first real machine we've seen come to market that we can see deploying without compromising on software or ruggedness," he said he tells them.

Messer said he has shared some prototypes with students from early elementary to high school age and, to a person, they described the 3E as "cool."

As an educator, he views it as a way to extend the learning process to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since students from fourth grade up will be allowed to take the devices home with them, even during extended breaks and summer vacation if they plan on remaining in the district.

"It should combat some of that summer loss when the students aren't typically engaged," Messer said.

The superintendent said there is only one problem now that the district has made its announcement: The kids will have to wait until the fall term for representatives of the manufacturers to come to the district to present the 3E devices to each student.

Contact reporter Joe Goldeen at (209) 546-8278 or jgoldeen@recordnet.com. Follow him at www.recordnet.com/goldeenblog and on Twitter @JoeGoldeen.

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(c)2014 The Record (Stockton, Calif.)

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Source: Record (Stockton, CA)


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