Danville Express

Perspective - November 30, 2007

Computers arrive

Everyone knew from the beginning that computers would have many wonderful applications. But they had to reach a certain state and be interconnected before we could begin to take advantage of the possibilities.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District is going state-of-the-art by trying out School Loop, an online community in which students have access to "virtual lockers," and teachers and parents can stay connected. Students are able to get any homework assignments they may have missed, plus School Loop is a place to ask each other questions. Teachers can provide a by-assignment grade report to be checked out by both students and their parents. With teachers, students and parents all logging in, computers and the Internet will help bring the school community into the 21st century, communication-wise.

Congratulations to the school district for piloting this program, which everyone is working to fine-tune. One suggestion by a school board member was not to put grades at the tops of e-mails. They pop out at parents, who could quickly respond (by e-mail) before looking at the entire communication, which might explain the grade or put it into perspective.

Another concern was families who do not have computers at home or the Internet. Fewer than 5 percent do not have Internet access from home, said district spokesman Terry Koehne. Hopefully some program could be initiated to get these families into cyberspace at their homes unless, of course, they do not choose to participate.

People in their personal lives are finding technological breakthroughs indispensable. Businesses, including schools, have been adapting to the computer and Internet usage as it becomes available. But School Loop goes beyond installing e-mail; it is the type of innovation that was envisioned in the early days of computers. And if it eventually eliminates the need for paper progress reports, it will be a step toward the paperless society that was once predicted.

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