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GAC to give students MacBooks, iPod touches for schoolwork

NORCROSS - Greater Atlanta Christian School is launching a digital learning environment next year in which every student in grades 6 to 12 will receive a MacBook loaded with school-provided software and an iPod Touch, school officials announced Thursday.

With 1,400 units, the Norcross school is slated to become the largest K-12 Digital Learning Environment in the United States.

"Greater Atlanta Christian has a history of stellar student achievement," President David Fincher said. "Yet we recognize we can't rest on past successes. The skills needed for thinking, collaborating and decision making are expanding, and our program will expand and lead as well.

"This change is less about the particulars of the digital tools and more about the world in which we all will live, work, research and learn. It's time, and our children will live in this new world. And the excitement on campus is electric."

Sam Weyen, an eighth-grade student, said he thinks it makes sense for the school to equip students with these tools.

"Times are changing," the 14-year-old Duluth resident said. "We need to use the tools we're going to be using ... when we go to work and we go to college."

Norcross resident Allie Blinder, a junior, said she already brings a laptop to school to take notes.

"I like it," the 17-year-old said. "I feel like it's a lot more easy on the student. It's definitely going to get you ready for the world."

Scott Harsh, the school's senior high principal, said the school will create a true 21st century Digital Learning Environment.

"It has always been our goal to provide great teaching that moves students well beyond passive learning," Harsh said. "In a Digital Learning Environment, we will have opportunities to more fully engage our students in the learning process. To provide for their success at the next level, we've got to equip our students to be collaborators and teammates in a project-based analytical learning environment.

"Additionally, we have a responsibility to prepare our students to be wise, moral and responsible digital citizens. So while it is not about the tools, the latest and best educational tools have to be available to accomplish the goals."