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Learning English - Words in the News
08 October, 2008 - Published 12:34 GMT
Laptop learning in Italy
Using a laptop

Children at a school in Italy have today begun an experiment to replace all their books with personal computers. The pupils involved will each be given a special laptop that contains their entire curriculum. From Rome our correspondent Duncan Kennedy reports:

Listen to the story

Until today, the Don Milani di Rivoli elementary school in central Turin was like any other. Children turned up, got out their books and pens and began the process of learning. But now, in what's being described as a unique experiment, 60 fifth-grade pupils and a number of third-graders, will start using computers only.

The mini-laptops, which run Windows software, all have a full curriculum programmed into them. The pupils will use the computers to do all their reading and writing. Security systems within the laptops mean the children's access to the internet is strictly controlled. The machines weigh less than a kilogram, can be dropped from a height of 1.5 metres and are waterproof.

Instead of spending the equivalent of 700 dollars a year on books, the laptops, built by the Italian company Olidata, cost less than 400 dollars. One of the teachers involved in the scheme says that, for the first time, schools will be able to verify in a scientific way how a computer alone can improve the learning process. The experiment, which has the backing of parents, is due to last a year.

Duncan Kennedy, BBC News, Rome

Listen to the words

elementary school
a school that provides the first part of a child's education (usually for children aged 5 - 11)

turned up
here, came to school

a class or group of classes in a school where all the children are of a similar age and/or ability

all the subjects taught at a school, college, university etc. The word 'curriculum' can also be used to mean the same as 'syllabus', i.e. the topics or books studied within a subject

access to
here, ability to surf/search/use

are waterproof
cannot be damaged by water

the equivalent of
the sum of money that amounts to/equals

involved in the scheme
taking part in the experiment

to verify
to prove that something is true or not

support, encouragement

To take away:
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