Lebanon Special School District officials announce the start of the 1-to-l (1 device for every 1 student) Chromebook laptop initiative which will provide the opportunity for every sixth through eighth grade student at Walter J. Baird and Winfree-Bryant Middle Schools to have the use of a laptop to complete their coursework and enhance their educational experience at home and school.
If parents choose to participate in this optional middle school learning initiative, they must do three things: (1) Attend a technology night at their student's school; (2) Agree to the district's responsible use policy; and (3) Pay a $30 technology usage fee. More information will be provided to parents about specific dates and times when they register their child on Monday, July 28.
During the rollout of the Chromebooks, parents and students will view a video that will explain policies, procedures and expectations, and administrators will be present to answer any questions. After signing the Responsible Use Policy and paying the Technology Usage Fee, the student will leave with a laptop and a protective sleeve. Students and families will then be ready to use this learning tool during the 2014-15 school year.
"Technology plays a key role in a student's current learning process and future career path. We want to do everything we can to prepare our students for their future and believe this initiative is an important step in that direction," said Scott Benson, director of LSSD.
During the 2012-13 school year, LSSD decided to buy 10 Chromebook laptops for experimentation and feedback from teachers and students. This learning tool is a small laptop with an Internet browser that uses Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to increase collaboration among students and teachers and provides a safe and filtered Internet resource at home and school.
The responses to the devices were overwhelmingly positive. Teachers reported students were more engaged when using a laptop and students said that learning was fun. Students and teachers were excited to have the laptops to use and wanted more.
In response, for the 2013-14 school year LSSD ordered three mobile Chromebook labs for each of its six schools. This effort placed an additional 510 devices in the school district.
Teachers utilizing these laptops for instruction allowed students to work at different paces and also allowed students to collaborate on projects more easily. One school reported a student who had stayed home sick but during the time she knew her partners were working on their project, she logged in from home so that she could still participate.
Although students and staff were excited about the additional technology, they were still asking for more. As well, throughout the year, district technology members conducted multiple meetings with students, parents and various other stakeholders to discuss the technology initiative and receive feedback.
Consequently, for the 2014-15 school year, the middle schools will begin their Digital Conversion of 1-to-1 and the mobile Chromebook labs currently housed there will be moved to the elementary schools. Each elementary school will now have five mobile Chromebook labs in addition to their current computer labs.
Clearly, a technological initiative such as this requires significant preparation. District teams of LSSD educators have visited nationally known leaders for implementing Digital Conversions in Baldwin County in Alabama and Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina to meet and discuss the impact of 1-to-1 technology on student achievement, the learning process, student engagement, professional development and the implementation plan.
Administrators and teachers have continually researched the impact of technology on learning and were thrilled with their findings. During the 2013-14 school year, teachers have been provided their own Chromebook device, have attended professional development on numerous aspects of using technology in the classroom and have already implemented many of these learning strategies.
Benson credited the LSSD’s Board of Education with understanding the important role of technology in today's world and supporting the district's Digital Conversion.
"We are all thrilled about the technological advances in our district,” Benson said. “We are excited about the challenges and opportunities these technology devices are going to bring not only to our middle school students and families but also what these additional devices are going to do for our elementary students! Technology engages students in the learning process. It is an exciting time to be in education!"