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Bristol students get free computers through e-Vermont

BRISTOL - The fifth grade students at Bristol Elementary will receive an early holiday gift on Thursday-netbook computers. The distribution of these small and powerful portable computers is part of the package of services Bristol is receiving after being selected by the e-Vermont Community Broadband Project. One of e-Vermont's statewide partners, the educational nonprofit Digital Wish, is working closely with schools in all 12 e-Vermont towns to demonstrate what's possible when every student in a classroom has their own computer.

According to Digital Wish's Executive Director Heather Chirtea, "Digital Wish focuses on providing each child with equal access to technology and helping teachers make the best use of it as a way to improve learning. After all the behind-the-scenes groundwork, we love to see the kids' expressions when they receive their very own netbooks."

Once the computers are distributed, Digital Wish will implement weekly teacher training, curriculum units, and projects for video and podcasting to bring the community into the school, and in turn, to help the school reach outwards to the community. A poster contest about digital citizenship gets underway next week.

"e-Vermont is working to shrink the digital divide by providing tools, training and resources," explains Project Director Helen Labun Jordan. ""When these netbooks start to go home, it will give the students and their families a new opportunity to learn together."

The e-Vermont Community Broadband Project is helping rural Vermont towns increase Internet usage for school innovation, job creation, downtown marketing, and e-commerce. The goal is to increase broadband usage and help develop a digital culture in rural communities throughout Vermont.

The e-Vermont Community Broadband Project is led by the Vermont Council on Rural Development. Digital Wish is part of its e-partnership providing services statewide, along with the Vermont State Colleges, the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Vermont Department of Public Service, Vermont Small Business Development Center, the Snelling Center for Government, Front Porch Forum, Digital Wish, Evslin Family Foundation and Vermont Community Foundation.

e-Vermont is supported by a $2.5 million stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce and by donated services and equipment from Dell, Microsoft, and Comcast. Additional support comes from the Evslin Family Foundation, Vermont Community Foundation, the Jan and David Blittersdorf Foundation, UVM's Center for Rural Studies, and the Vermont Rural Partnership.

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