Lebanon High School ditches textbooks for laptops

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Back to school doesn't necessarily mean back to the books for some Indiana students. Lebanon High School has no text books this year.

Students and teachers are making the giant leap to laptop learning.

Lebanon High School invested a million dollars, taking a leap in technology and perhaps a leap in faith. Most educators believe it's certainly a leap in learning.

Lebanon's textbooks are all locked up and stacked up in closets.

"We ordered two textbooks this year. Normally we order thousands of textbooks," said Principal Kevin O'Rourke.

All the students have laptops loaded with textbooks, classroom lessons, assignments and hopefully their homework.

Angie Coddington teaches English without books to freshmen.

"They get to direct their own learning. I give them a question or a problem, and they take off," said Coddington.

Students say using computers is more engaging, friendlier and faster than textbooks and notebooks.

"On a laptop I can type it right in and ask the teacher a question. I'm not having to just scribble down answers and not be able to listen," said Rachelle Smith, junior.

So far, teachers and students say there have been few technical glitches. A student-run help desk solves most of them.

The transition hasn't been easy or cheap. In addition to the million dollars spent on laptops and software, there are racks and racks of computer servers, hundreds of miles of computer cables and scores of wireless transmitters. Added together, those costs essentially wipe out the savings of not having to buy textbooks.

"From the parent's standpoint we are replacing the textbook fee with a computer fee," said the principal.

Other school systems are also in the process of switching from book bags to laptop cases. Schools taking the jump from textbooks to computers are comparing notes and learning from each other. It appears as if some of the smaller schools are taking the biggest steps. In southern Hancock County, New Palestine Schools started switching to computers three years ago. But there are still textbooks in the classrooms if students need them. Danville Schools use a combination of iPads and textbooks.

In western Indiana, Farmersburg schools recently had their new laptops stolen and had to scramble to replace them because there were no textbooks.