WATCH: Penn Manor’s laptop program takes spotlight in new documentary – LancasterOnline

Posted: Monday, June 29, 2015 7:21 am

Updated: 9:04 am, Mon Jun 29, 2015.

WATCH: Penn Manor’s laptop program takes spotlight in new documentary

By KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff Writer


A short documentary on Penn Manor School District’s student laptop program premiered at a technology conference in Boston last week.

The film, “Penn Manor: The Power of Open in Education,” highlights the district’s one-to-one laptop program and student help desk. Red Hat Inc., a global open source software company, spent three days at Penn Manor filming classrooms and interviewing students, teachers and staff for the documentary.

Several Lancaster County districts issue individual laptops or tablets to students in certain grades, but most use devices with Apple or Windows operating systems.

Penn Manor opted instead to use open source software — programs that are free and able to be modified. That saved the district $350,000, according to Technology Director Charlie Reisinger.

Related: Hempfield plans to issue iPads to every fourth-grader

“In the spirit of the open philosophy, we decided early on that we wanted our kids to be engineers and inventors, and not technology tourists,” Reisinger says in the Red Hat documentary.

The eight-minute film begins with flyover footage of neighborhoods and farms in the district. Later it shows student technology assistants taking apart classmates’ laptops to fix them.

“We do repairs, we do software, we help anyway we can, but just being here makes me happy,” says Susan Black, one of the student assistants.

Says another student, Taylor Sangrey, “Programming to me is just kind of an escape for myself. I’m not really assessed on whether or not I can memorize things for a test. It’s more of applying myself and accomplishing goals. It’s not the normal classroom. It’s completely different.”

Penn Manor launched its laptop program at the high school in the winter of 2014. The program will be expanded to the two middle schools this fall.

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Monday, June 29, 2015 7:21 am.

Updated: 9:04 am.

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