ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) – The days of lugging around textbooks and handing in paper assignments may be coming to an end at Elizabethtown High School thanks to its new Google one-to-one program.

EHS rolled out the program Jan. 11, and students use Google Chromebooks to keep up with their schoolwork. Teachers can load assignments, reading materials and class notes to Google Classroom, a free cloud-based system that also allows students to turn in their work digitally.

Joe Nepi, who teaches social studies and world civilization at EHS, said the one-to-one initiative allows him to extend his classroom resources and expand his lessons, especially with interactive elements offered through the technology.

“For example I can do a simulation with the trial of King Louis XVI, and I might not have done it because the resources aren’t there,” Nepi said Monday. “But now the ability with Chrome for those kiddos to be able to access certain pieces of information allows us to do things like that.”

The one-to-one program helps students and teachers keep track of school work. Teachers can see when a student turns in homework, and students can send teachers and fellow classmates messages if they get stuck on assignments.

Instead of calling a friend after school, EHS senior Carley Cox says that flexibility gives students additional resources for help at their fingertips.

The program also offers variety, allowing teachers to mix written and visual elements to reach students who may learn better through the help of video rather than simply relying on reading assignments, she said.

“Everybody learns differently, and I feel like with the Chromebooks we can watch videos,” she said. “There are so many online programs. We can have the textbook online. I feel like it will really help the students in our school learn better.”

Elizabethtown Independent Schools bought the Chromebooks – 800 for EHS students and 50 for staff at about $190 each – through a mix of donations from the Elizabethtown Educational Foundation and community partners like Flex Films USA as well as some of the district’s textbook funding.

Chromebooks require internet access for homework, but Nepi says he can recall only one instance in which a student needed help getting an assignment. He credited the school’s information technology department with its work in making sure students could get the internet at home or elsewhere.

The high school has also trained students like Cox and fellow senior Jake Casey to help troubleshoot Chromebook problems, giving them Google certification in the process.

Casey says calls for help have been mundane since the program launched, but they’ve given students on the technology team hands-on experience that can help them later in life. Both Casey and Cox say they plan to continue studying computers and information technology after they graduate this year.

“I really like going into computers and the hardware of it and the software too, so it’s something I’ve really looked into for a career,” he said. “I’m really happy for this opportunity.”

While some EHS students have been trained to address Chromebook problems, Nepi says he often gets help from students in his class when the laptops aren’t working as they should.

“They’re so tech savvy,” he said. “It’s been my everyday students that have probably helped me as much as having to go to a specialized person.”

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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