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Connected to class 24 hours a day | Education

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Connected to class 24 hours a day

GREENVILLE (WZZM) - 450 Greenville students will now be connected to class 24 hours a day.

The school district is giving students at the elementary, middle and high school levels Droid X2's and Samsung Galaxy Tabs as part of a new pilot program.  Greenville School District Technology Director LeeAnn Eyer says the goal is to provide educational access for students no matter where they are.

It used to be everything you needed for Algebra class fit squarely on your desk - book, notepad, pencil, and that Texas instrument calculator.  Now, something with the brains of 'all of the above' is squeezing its way into the hands of students.

"We don't have to take the book home," said freshman Kelsey Adams.

She isn't complaining. Her teacher, Dave Fortino, can plug in a lesson, and if she doesn't quite get something, she can plug in to listen.

"We can have headphones and if we don't understand something, we can go back and listen to the notes," she said.

"They get to listen to a voice that's probably a little more pleasant than mine," Fortino said.

In truth, he says the advantage is that he can reach those select students falling behind.

"If there are three students only who are having trouble and who are behind, instead of having them come in after school, because other students will be able to use these and move ahead, that will give me time to take those three and do this during class time," he said.

Eyer says the sleek screens are also worth the $178,000 investment, because they reach the rural population.

"There's pockets, I know my area, I can't get high-speed Internet," she said.

The smartphones and tablets allow students to share Google Docs. They can work on documents together, and they can blog with Mr. Fortino.

"We're hoping that allows them to be more engaged in their learning and have more ownership," said Eyer.

But one potential downside? More ownership means fewer excuses fly.

"Two weeks later and we're reviewing for a test, and they say 'I wasn't here that day,'" said Fortino. "Well, now it doesn't matter because it's already up there."

This is a pilot program. Eyer says the district will decide whether or not to continue it after the end of the school year.

The district is paying for the program with the help of a federal technology grant.