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RCDSB students receive free Chromebook laptops

RCI students Brandon Devries, Liam Tobin, and Molly Chamberlain using their issued Chromebooks. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa) RCI students Brandon Devries, Liam Tobin, and Molly Chamberlain using their issued Chromebooks. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)

Thousands of students in the Renfrew County District School Board have received a free laptop for schoolwork.

It's an initiative from the school board to provide equal learning opportunities and access to technology for all students in grades 7 to 12.

"You always need to start where the kids are," said Renfrew Collegiate Institute vice-principal Greg Harkness.

"If the kids are using computers in other aspects of their lives, using it in an educational setting just makes a lot of sense."

In total, 4,200 Chromebook laptops were passed out to students who opted into the program. The cost to the school board for the equipment was $940,000.

"If they're doing research, some students in the past would use their phones for research," said Harkness. "Now they've got a nice Chromebook to be able to do it on."

Grade 12 student Brandon Devries has a desktop computer at home, but he didn't have a personal laptop available to him to bring to school before this year.

He says much of his learning takes place online now, while simultaneously being in the classroom.

"It's very online-oriented with most of the material, because we all just use Google," Devries explains.

"Google Classroom, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs. Our classwork would be posted on Google Classroom."

French teacher Kathleen Mottershead has been teaching in Renfrew for the last 25 years and she welcomes the addition of technology to her classroom.

"We use a lot of current affairs, we use authentic texts, and online listening activities," she says. "So each of our students now has equal access and that wasn't necessarily the case before."

Currently, Devries is using his Chromebook to prepare for a presentation in his foods class.

"I can easily go on Google Drawings and I can make my infographic while also writing my scripts," the Grade 12 says while using the stylus that comes with the laptop.

Harkness says wifi at school is filtered to prevent students from visiting undesirable websites or abusing the capabilities of the devices.

Students are also able to take their computers home on evenings, weekends, holidays, and summer break. Each student will keep hold of their personally issued laptop until they graduate.

"I think it's awesome," says Devries. "Equal opportunity for everybody." Top Stories

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