Next year, Pearce will follow other high schools and middle schools in the DFW area as they adopt the 1-to-1 program, which offers a laptop to every student at no cost for the school year.
“For those that need it, it sounds like a great idea,” junior Hayden Giller said. Some students may already have a laptop, but many do not have one or do not have a laptop solely for their own use.
The devices will be issued to students like any other supplies that they use during the school year. Administrators hope that this will lead to a closer relationship between school and technology and an increase in student interest for learning. The technology will work closely with instructor lesson plans in order to make that happen.
“Students will get HP Chromebooks, and they will get to take them home. The laptops will have Gorilla Glass and they will be touchscreen,” instructional coach Ashton Tilley said.
The Chromebooks will run almost all operations through Google, along with a few other programs offered. There will be no hard drives on the computers, so everything will be saved via student Google Drive accounts. Students will be expected to accept the responsibility of keeping their laptops safe and secure at all times. If a laptop is broken or a screen is cracked, administrators have an insurance plan in place to cover repairs, but it will come with a small cost.
“There is an insurance fee that people will have to pay. We’re hearing it will be somewhere between $20 and $30. There should be reduced rates for some people, sort of like free and reduced lunch,” Ms. Tilley said.
With the new technology, the district is focusing on expanding its usage in classrooms. This will require teachers to adapt some lesson plans so that they incorporate the use of the Chromebooks and the programs that they provide.
“The goal is to integrate it as much as possible. I heard one teacher say that it’s not ‘one giant pencil’. We’re not taking away notebooks or pencils, we’re just adding to them,” librarian Ashleigh Osborne said.
When a new program is introduced, there comes the possibility for issues to arise from it. The team behind the 1-to-1 implementation is already beginning to address some of those issues and become prepared to face problems that may eventually come up during the school year.
“One of the big concerns is the Wi-Fi in general,” Ms. Tilley said. “The district is working on improving the broadband. They would like to get it to a point where anybody that enters the building would be able to use three devices.””
“I think the biggest issue the junior highs are facing is cracked screens. Some students will put a pen down on their laptop, then just close it without realizing and the screen cracks. Other than that, students at the junior highs love them,” Ms. Osbourne said.
In preparation for the program arriving at Pearce, teachers and administrators spent a day visiting high schools in the DFW area that had already introduced 1-to-1, including McKinney High School, New Tech High School at Coppell, Lewisville High School-Harmon and Northwest High School. Later in the day, they also visited RISD junior highs, like North, Parkhill, Apollo and West. Apollo and West had implemented the 1-to-1 program a bit earlier than the other schools and offered a deeper look at its usage. Through this, they were able to see how the program worked in real time and how teachers had incorporated the new technology into their lessons.
“One of the things my group observed was that students seemed to be more engaged,” associate principal Donna Anthony said. “In one biology class, I saw students virtually travel to a rain forest to learn about natural selection.”
If successful, the 1-to-1 program will continue to expand and upgrade technology as it goes on. Student aides will be needed to ensure the program runs smoothly. Students with a knowledge of the technology and willingness to help out with teaching other students about how the Chromebooks work and how they can be used can apply to be a technology aid next year at http://tinyurl.com/11TechApp.