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Oceanport Students Keep Feet on Ground, Put Schoolwork in Cloud

The district's new web-based laptops let students store and share their work in the data cloud.

When it comes to storing schoolwork, flash drives are going the way of folders and floppy disks in the Oceanport School District.

Students at both schools got to start working with new web-based laptops this week that use cloud storage instead of a hard drive or other local storage device for saving work.

The district purchased 120 Google Chromebooks for Maple Place School for $23,800, according to Matthew Howell, the school's principal. An additional 60 units will be purchased to be used by third and fourth grade students at Wolf Hill School. The middle school piloted 30 of the laptops earlier this winter before pulling the trigger and purchasing 30 units for each grade's team, said Howell.

In Gerri Martinez's fourth grade classroom at Maple Place, students researched weather maps on Chromebooks and created Powerpoint slides in response to questions.

"It's not just teaching the lesson," said Martinez, "but now students are going in and finding the information out themselves."

Downstairs, teacher Anthony Grassi and eighth graders Elijah Smith and Kelly McNicholas, demonstrated how students could share cloud-stored documents on their Google drives and access them simultaneously using a variety of devices like a tablet and an iPhone.

Students can collaborate on projects and if someone is absent, said Grassi, the rest of the team can still access his work. Teachers can also provide immediate feedback on students' work.

Howell said all students' information is filtered throught the district's security and that students can only access what's on the server.

Buying the Chromebooks sprang from a professional workshop Grassi took in October and inspired him to "go paperless."

The district piloted 30 of the laptops for two months and "they wer an immediate success," said Howell.

Implementing more technology in the district had been one of Howell's goals as principal, he said. "I want the students to have the skills to get out there and compete."

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