EDUCATION

Education 2.0: Loudoun County students assigned Microsoft laptops

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In a pilot program in Loudoun County, elementary school students have each been assigned laptop computers through Microsoft's Partners in Learning program.

And teachers are convinced it's keeping the kids more engaged.

Like most kids her age in this age of touch screens and motion detection, 9-year old Haley Frankovich, 4th grader, knows a thing or two about technology.

"We use Microsoft Power Point, Word, Photo Story 3," says Haley, a 4th grader at Mountain View Elementary School. "We use many, many apps."

At the Tysons Corner Microsoft store, students are presenting videos they produced, part of their geometry curriculum.

"We also do and offer a lot of training for the teachers, so they understand how to leverage a lot of the applications," says Andrew Ko of Microsoft.

But is this too much technology, too young? By teaching computer skills, are children missing out on the fundamentals?

Teacher Laura Rahn says she tries to find a balance.

"In my classroom it's all about choices," Rahn says. "You can use the technology tools, you can use the paper and pencil, you can create something and print it out, you can draw something and turn it in."

After 23-years in education, Rahn says she's never seen students more engaged.

"It's making it more real," Rahn says. "It's giving them another way to develop their thinking, to collaborate with each other, to use those higher level skills that are going to be so important in the future for them."

Meanwhile, parents see all of this as a big advantage. After a year of instruction at school, many of these students are now schooling mom and dad.

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