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The high school, which focuses primarily on the study of American history, will use high-tech mobile computer labs to bring wireless Internet access to students at the renowned Long Island City institution. Gioia touted the mobile labs, which consist of a cart and 20 specially equipped laptop computers that can be moved from room to room, as a cost effective way to bring Internet access to students without the hassle or expense of hardwiring classroooms."To be competitive in the 21st century, our children need 21st century technology," said Gioia, who toured the school Friday. "The solution costs less and works better."In the past, schools looking to gear up for student Internet access would have to hardwire their classrooms, a time-consuming process with a price tag that could run into the thousands of dollars, Gioia said. The mobile lab cart - which carries 20 laptops and can be moved from room to room -- must still be plugged into a wired infrastructure, so monetary savings are not always that high, a computer expert said. But they offer other major advantages to schools: For one, they occupy less room, clearing the way for more instructional space, the expert said. At the Academy of American Studies and other schools throughout the city, students are increasingly taking advantage of wireless technology of one sort or another.As of Sept. 30, 556 school buildings around the city had been set up for wireless Internet access, said Alicia Maxey, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education. The current connections cover 34,385 instructional rooms, and there are plans to add another 149 buildings or 9,961 rooms by Sept. 30, 2005.Mobile computer labs, such as the one at the Academy of American Studies, usually retail for about $50,000 and provide wireless coverage across several classrooms simultaneously."By bringing new and innovative technologies into our classrooms, we're providing our children with the tools they need to compete in the 21st century, and we're doing it in an affordable way," said Gioia, who secured $50,000 in city funds for the mobile lab.At the Academy of American Studies, the wireless technology will be used to augment the school's core curriculum, which centers on the study of American history. The 550-student school was founded in 1992 and receives support from the Gilder Lehrman Institute as well as colleges and organizations throughout the city. The curriculum already places a heavy emphasis on interactive instructional models, which include cooperative learning, audio-visual presentations, up-to-date computer software, internships, trips, and research projects. Now, instructors can add mobile Internet hubs to the mix.The technology already is at work in other city schools helping to augment the paper-and-ink studies that form the backbone of so many humanities curriculums. The High School for Arts and Technology, where heavy emphasis is placed on high-tech instruction and every student learns to make Web pages, for example, has five regular computer labs. But the school also relies on a mobile lab - a cart with 20 wireless laptop computers - to bring some of that technology into its humanities classes, according to an education magazine.In Queens, Gioia said he hopes to replicate the program's success at high schools throughout his district, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City."My vision is that every school in my district will have wireless access to the Internet," Gioia said.Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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