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San Diego Students Get Wired With Broadband Grant


About 30,000 San Diego middle school students will be getting a more wired education next year. They’ll be using netbooks provided by a million-dollar federal grant.

— Students at 10 schools across San Diego will get netbooks with 3G wireless internet access for use at home and school.

San Diego Unified was one of 20 school districts across the country to win one of the pilot Learning-On-The-Go grants from the Federal Communication Commission.

Students at Innovation Middle School in Clairemont Mesa have been using netbooks for about two years. The school’s principal, Harlan Klein, said they’ve let students explore topics beyond the classroom.

“We see a number of students who go above and beyond because they are very, very interested that their projects have wings, they have legs," he said. "They’re going to be somehow broadcast over the internet or put onto platforms like iTunes and there’s a world-wide potential audience for what they produce.”

Eighth graders in Rick Selby's United States History class said the computers simplify getting their school work done.

“It’s easier than doing it on paper because you can just type it and typing is faster," said Tiffany Le, 13. "And turning in assignments is easier because you can email work to your teacher.”

Le's classmate Ashley Garrett said they also make homework more fun.

“It makes it a lot easier to do my work and it gives us more creative ability than if we were to do it on paper," she said. "We’ll have the opportunity to make a movie or we’ll be given the choice of what we want to do using an online application.”

The computers also take a step toward closing the digital divide by providing internet access to students who would otherwise not have it at home, said Darryl LaGace, the district's chief information and technology officer.

He estimated about one-third of San Diego Unified students don't have internet access or a computer at home.

The nine middle schools that will be part of the netbook program expansion are Millennial Tech in Emerald Hills, Dana in Point Loma, Knox in Lincoln Park, Lewis in Allied Gardens, Longfellow in Clairemont Mesa, Mann in City Heights, Pershing in San Carlos, Wilson in Mid-City and Montgomery in Clairemont Mesa.

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