Wadsworth Schools will start next year with an expanded technology program that will send every middle and high school student home with a Chromebook and provide devices in elementary classrooms.
Superintendent Andrew Hill said in a message to the district this week that school officials have infused iPads and Chromebooks into classrooms for a number of years now. A full one-to-one initiative is the next natural step as it allows teacher to incorporate the devices into more enhanced learning opportunities. Plus, the cost of the devices have dropped dramatically in recent years allowing the district to fully implement a plan spelled out in the district’s 2016-2020 strategic plan.
“What we have heard each year from our teachers is that if we had more devices available, they would be used on a regular basis,” Hill wrote. “As the costs of these items have changed since the creation of our strategic plan, we are now able to create a learning environment that allows each student access to a device at no additional cost, when compared to what was planned for in 2016.”
Hill said the district will invest around $600,000 to fully integrate the devices for the upcoming school year.
The plan, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, is to have iPads in each preschool and first grade classroom. Second- through sixth- grade will have Chromebooks in each classroom; and seventh through 12th grade students will be issued a Chromebook that they will be able to take home with them each night.
Seventh grade students will keep the Chromebook until the end of eighth grade; ninth-grade students will keep the Chromebook until graduation.
“All of our recent textbook adoptions have supplemental materials and the textbook available digitally,” he said. ‘The capabilities are truly fascinating.”
Teachers have long worked to embrace this transition.
“We offer professional development throughout the school year,” Hill said. “Many of the sessions teachers sign up for involve the integration of technology into the classroom. We receive professional development services from our own employees and NEOnet, our (Information Technology Center.) The topics focus on strategies like flipped classrooms, project-based learning and many, many other topics.”
With this integration also comes a plan to protect the devices and students, Hill said.
For students in seventh through 12th grade, there will be an optional $25 per school year fee that will cover the cost of any damage to the Chromebook determined to be the responsibility of students. Hill said this is not a mandatory fee.
“Our technology department will complete an analysis of the damage to determine if the student in question was responsible,” he said.
As far as safety goes, Hill said when students use devices outside school, the district’s filtering service, Securly, will continue to work.
In an effort to enhance the safety measures provided through Securly, the school board recently agreed to purchase a service called “24” through Securly. The service, which will begin in the 2019-20 school year, will continue to scan student use while on the system and will notify district professionals if something is found that triggers potential self-harm implications.
“The “24” monitoring will allow for our school district to be notified when the employees of Securly determine that there is a reason to suspect a user may cause harm to himself, herself or others,” Hill said.
The integration of technology devices in classrooms is a growing trend.
Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said earlier this year that Cloverleaf started a teacher technology academy four years ago. It trains teachers on innovative ways to use the devices in classrooms. Now, every eighth-grader gets a Chromebook in the district.
Like at Wadsworth, seventh- grade through 12th-grade students in the Buckeye Schools district have a Chromebook.