Old computers given new life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 16, 1999

From staff reports

Students at Lakeview Elementary get a little of the old with the new.

Thursday, December 16, 1999

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Students at Lakeview Elementary get a little of the old with the new. Thanks to one fifth-grade teacher there, the students are learning their typing skills early, using computers that would have otherwise been scrapped.

Through the efforts of Ron Frandle, technology coordinator and full-time fifth-grade instructor, the building has two computer labs; one is dedicated to newer computers and software, including Windows 95, the other is set up with older, but still useful, teaching technology.

Using outdated Apple 2Gs, which replaced the 2Es, the students are learning basic keyboarding, beginning in kindergarten. The machines are considered obsolete by the school district and were supposed to be discarded or sold. Frandle held onto them, however, piecing them together from spare parts and networking them together into a usable second computer lab.

&uot;The machines were of no value to anyone but us,&uot; said Lakeview principal David Paschka. &uot;If we sold them, we might get a dollar per machine. Then the buyer would have to get new software, since the software we had was licensed to the school.&uot;

The lab gives the younger kids a head start while freeing up the newer computer lab for the older students, Paschka said.

&uot;This is basically a drill and kill lab,&uot; the principal said. &uot;Some of the kids need more help on their typing drills and they can get it here. By the time they move up to fifth and sixth grade, where they are using the newer programs, they will already have the experience they need.&uot;

The recent decision to reorganize the school district will bring sixth-graders back into an elementary setting, putting more constraints on computer lab time. With two working labs, Lakeview has an advantage over the other elementaries, Paschka said.

Finding new software that is appropriate for younger students is often difficult and can be costly. Paschka estimates that a new licensed software package for the school might cost between $20,000-$25,000.

&uot;Here we’ve used the older machines and software to help the students learn the basics, while saving the school district money at the same time,&uot; Paschka said.

The younger students are still receiving the benefits of the new technology, Paschka said. The fifth-graders create animated flash cards as part of their English projects and those flash card programs are used to help teach the younger students, he said.

&uot;It’s a kind of peer tutoring,&uot; the principal said. &uot;The older students learn by doing, and their work is then reused to help the teachers teach the young students.&uot;