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Laptop Usage at St. Louis-Area Schools Reveals Differences, Similarities

Students in both the Clayton and Maplewood Richmond Heights school districts regularly work with the devices.

Upgrade by upgrade, both public and private schools in the St. Louis area appear to work hard to improve technology resources for their students. Different schools take different approaches toward the adoption of wireless networks, laptop rentals and smart boards in classrooms.

In the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, for example, just like textbooks and pencils.

But one thing became evident in looking at 10 other schools in the area: Unlike a decade ago, a computer lab doesn't seem to cut it anymore. Remaining competitive in today's school-tech game requires a whole lot more.

and in Sunset Hills mix it up a bit by allowing students to bring their own computers to school and lending the occasional school-owned laptop to students during school hours. Neither school supplies every student with a computer—most have their own.

School districts such as Lindbergh, Rockwood and allow students to bring their own computers to school. There are no school computers for students to take home. Both Parkway and Kirkwood schools hope to enable access for students' personal computers at school in the near future.

On the flip side, private schools provide computers for students but don't allow students to bring their own laptops to school.

In the race to provide information access, no one school or district seemed to hold the clear title of leader. Take a look at what each school does have:

Source: Devin Davis, chief information officer

  • All buildings in the district have wireless access with a connection speed of 46 megabits per second, which will be upgraded to 100 megabits per second by this summer.
  • Students can authenticate their own personal devices, including laptops, iPads and iPhones. An antiviral program tests the device first to keep out trojans.
  • Every high school classroom has a Smart Board, and most also have a projector, document camera, teacher laptop and DVD player.
  • Most students have their own laptops, but the district lends some laptops out to students who do not have one. 
  • The high school has a total of 368 computers for students. The computers are placed throughout 12 science labs, three walk-in labs, two class labs, two classroom-based clusters and other small groups of five computers. This figure does not include laptops issued to teachers.

Lindbergh High School

Sources: Mariano Marin-Gomez, director of technology; and Beth Cross, director of community relations

  • As of January, students can access the school's wireless Internet connection using laptops, netbooks, iPads and other devices brought from home.
  • When computers are required for assignments, students have the option of using school laptops in the classroom, but they cannot take school equipment home.
  • Because the high school does not have as many laptops as it has students, teachers reserve laptop carts as needed.
  • Students share an Internet connection of 40 megabits per second, which should be upgraded to 100 megabits per second in the coming months.
  • The Lindbergh Interactive Classroom (LINC) system will provide electronic whiteboards and other resources to every classroom in the district within three years.
  • Approximately 10 percent of the student population—150 to 200 students —uses the wireless Internet connection at any given time.

Source: Jane Pesek, director of development

  • Thomas Jefferson School's classrooms, common areas, dormitories and arts and athletic complexes all have wireless Internet. 
  • The school has laptops for students to borrow, but they don't often ask.
  • Students may use personal computers and other Internet-ready devices from home on the school's wireless network.
  • Thomas Jefferson does not have computer labs in the traditional sense, but there are four computers each in the Sunroom and the Lincoln Library, which are networked to printers and a copy machine.  
  • Classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards.

Source: Ginger Fletcher, director of community relations and development

  • A wireless system is in place for the use of those working on district-owned computers.
  • Students are not able to use their own computers on the wireless network, although that is under consideration. 
  • There are computer labs for art, journalism, engineering and computer classes, as well as minilabs for English and social studies classrooms. All science classrooms have laptops for student use.
  • The computers are not available for students to take home.
  • The wireless network runs at 108 megabits per second.
  • All classrooms have interactive whiteboards and computers. 

Source: Cathy Kelly, community relations coordinator

  • All schools have wireless connections, with 54 megabits per second coming from each wireless access point. 
  • Students cannot use the wireless Internet connection with their own computers, but they should be able to do so next year.
  • Between the high schools and middle schools in the Parkway district, there are 153 computer labs, which hold 3,351 computers, some of which are laptops. 
  • District-owned computer may not be taken out of the building, but they can be used in the classrooms and libraries.
  • Most classrooms have Smart Boards and document cameras.
  • Parkway hopes to increase its Internet connection speed and accessibility. 


Sources: Steve Beatty, chief information officer; Will Blaylock, director of instructional technology; and Gina Tarte, marketing and media specialist

  • All Rockwood schools have wireless Internet access, which was granted by bond-issue funds. 
  • Each Rockwood high school has approximately eight computer labs, with the goal of reaching a 2:1 student-to-computer ratio, including classroom netbooks.
  • Students can use a guest wireless connection with devices brought from home or with district computers.
  • Wireless access points run at 54 megabits per second, while the district's main Internet connection reaches 150 megabits per second.
  • District computers may not be taken home.
  • Every Rockwood classroom, library, art room and music room contains an interactive Smart Board.
  • The district is in the process of researching the use of e-books, as well as web conferencing.

Source: Rob Highfill, director of technology and information services

  • Ladue High School features eight computer labs with an average of 23 computers per lab.
  • The school is completely covered by a wireless connection of 54 megabits per second.
  • Teachers may reserve laptop carts, but the district's computers may not be taken home.
  • Students may bring personal computers to school and use a guest connection. 
  • Most classrooms have whiteboards, and some even have iPods, iPads, document cameras and classroom-response systems.

Source: Tom Wyman, interim director of technology

  • Every student from grade seven through 12 receives a tablet PC to bring to class and take home. The devices are turned in each summer for upgrades and replacements.
  • With 185 wireless access points, the entire campus is a Wi-Fi hot spot, including some outdoor areas.
  • Each wireless access point broadcasts an Internet connection of 100 megabits per second.
  • In a school of 1,200 students and 150 faculty members, approximately 900 computers access the Internet through the school's network by 8:30 a.m.
  • Students do not bring their own computers to school.

Source: Sapna Jos, manager of communications

  • Every student from grade seven to 12 at Villa Duchesne  receives a Hewlett-Packard tablet PC to use at school and at home.
  • Villa Duchesne also has a computer lab with 16 desktop computers.
  • All buildings have wireless Internet running at 54 megabits per second. 
  • Students may not bring their own computers from home.
  • All classrooms have a whiteboard and digital projector.
Scott Bonner March 28, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Can you add information about the Maplewood-Richmond Heights Schoo District's setup? Thanks.
Nate Birt March 28, 2011 at 08:36 PM
Thanks for your question, Scott! MRH communications director Tom Wickersham says he'd be glad to help us get more details about the district's technology, and I'll be sharing more information on that as soon as it's available.

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