Instead of lugging books and notebooks to and from school, some Career Academy at South Florida State College students just bring their own computer to school.
School districts and students are using computers more while textbooks are being phased out in favor of less costly and easily updated or revised online or software-based study materials.
Students using their own computers in school is the next technological step, which some students have taken with a pilot project at the Career Academy.
Academy lead teacher Jennifer Westergom said students are allowed to bring in their own laptops or tablet computers on which they can log onto a guest network for Internet access.
Most students have four academic classes, and for some students three of those four classes have "online textbooks," she said.
For students who don't bring a computer, each classroom has about 20 to 25 computers.
With an enrollment of 96, 20 percent of the students bring their own computers to the Career Academy.
Career Academy junior Easton Davis, who is in the medical assistant program, bought a new laptop computer just to use at school.
It's easier to type notes and it saves paper because he can turn in assignments online to the teacher instead of having to do them on paper, Davis said.
In his history class, the PowerPoint notes can be inputted into the computer without having to write them down, he added.
Junior Marissa Nutter, who is in the computer networking program, also got a new laptop computer in September to use in school.
It saves so much time, she said. Instead of transferring files to different computers with flash drives, all your files are there in your own computer.
In fact, Nutter said she has little use for paper. "Not really. Not anymore. "It's mostly just Word documents," Nutter said.
In her chemistry class on Wednesday, Nutter and her classmate Evelyn Spiller typed their notes as teacher Cheryl Moffat presented a lesson
Moffat said most of the science resources are online now.
"We are trying to make sure that all of the kids have access to it whether they have their own laptops or iPads, and if they don't we should be able to provide them with a laptop," she said.
Some students have computers, but they don't have an Internet connection at home, so the students get a CD with the biology instructional materials, Moffat said.
A lot of chemistry resources are online, she said, so county chemistry teachers have been working together to create packets of instructional materials, which are like a textbook that students can use at home if they don't have Internet access.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum/Instruction Rebecca Fleck said having students bring their own computers to school will help the district financially, especially at the secondary level, and achieve the goal of one computer for every student.
At the Career Academy, eligible 10th- to 12th-graders can earn a high school diploma, a vocational certificate and possible college credit at the same time.