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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gen Z Students Ditch Lockers in the Age of Digital Learning | WUNC

"The bell rings at Granville Central High School to signal lunch time on a recent afternoon. Hundreds of students pour into the hallways carrying bright-colored backpacks, lunches and laptops. But not one student is holding a book – or stopping at a locker" reports Liz Schlemmer, Administrative Intern.

Stacey Mangum's classroom has a smartboard, not a blackboard or whiteboard at the front of the room.
Photo: Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

"I never use my locker," says sophomore Makayla Debolt, while standing in a long hallway of lockers. "The last time I used my locker was in the 6th grade, and I barely used it then."

Makayla’s not alone. Here at Granville Central High, students have to request a locker. Assistant Principal Dwayne Waddey has been sitting at lunch every day for the first week of school, waiting with a clipboard for students to sign up for one.

“We've got over 500 lockers and about 670 kids, and only 7 or 8 of them signed up for lockers," Waddey said. "When I got here, I asked myself why they don't use lockers, but since they have less books and with the computers, they have no need for lockers."

Granville Central High is ahead of the curve when it comes to digital learning in North Carolina. It's a rural school about 30 miles north of Raleigh that graduates about 120 students a year. When the class of 2018 graduates, each student will return a MacBook Air to the school district. This is what's called a 1-to-1 school, where every student has an assigned computer.

Less than 40 percent of schools in the state have a ratio of one computer per student, and at some of those schools, the students can't take the devices home. Granville County Schools started its digital initiative relatively early, back in 2009, with one high school going 1-to-1. Now it offers devices to students at all of its high schools.

The district's Director of Instructional Technology Services Vanessa Wrenn sees the trend of students not using lockers as a good sign of the school district’s progress with its digital initiative. She’d even like to see the high school some day remove all of its lockers and put charging stations in their place.

Until then, Wrenn says Granville County Schools has worked hard to get to this point.

"When you’re doing something for the first time, you’re thinking of everything. You’re thinking of the infrastructure. Can your internet handle it? Do you have enough access points? Training, your teachers, security," Wrenn said.

At first, the computers were bought with grants, and now they’re paid for fully by state funds dedicated to technology. In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law stating its "intent to transition" to digital learning materials by 2017.

So what do those materials look like in a classroom?

Stacey Mangum is an English teacher who shares a digital notebook with her students. They can type questions from their laptops while she teaches from a smartboard.
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Source: WUNC   

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