One-to-One Initiative Ready to Go
The new Chromebooks arrived over the summer and were ready for Deer Lakes students and teachers to start using on day one of the school year.
“We’re extremely happy to put a tool into our students hands that will give them unlimited access to the resources they need to be successful learning in the 21st century,” Deer Lakes Middle School Principal David Campos said.
Distribution of the Google-based Chromebook laptop computers started in early August through a series of two hour information sessions with the students and their parents. The sessions went over things like how the program will work and what the district’s goals and expectations are to how the students and their families can best use their new devices.
Technology Director, Daniel Lauletta, who created the program at Deer Lakes, said it’s not enough to simply pass out laptops to the students.
“We wanted to make sure that we were not only providing the students with an amazing learning tool, but that we were also supporting them along the way and showing them precisely how to use their new device it to its fullest extent,” he said.
According to Lauletta, that meant also teaching the student’s support system how the devices work and what that will mean to their student’s academic future.
“The new devices are incredible and will allow our students to achieve things no class before them has ever achieved, “ said Lauletta. “However, we are still talking about technology and if there’s one thing I have learned over the years it’s that technology breaks down from time to time.”
“That’s why it was so important for us to work with the students’ parents so that we are all on the same page with regard to our expectations as well as their needs.”
The training sessions also covered information about an optional but recommended insurance program for the devices that costs $30, with a discount for families with more than one child.
The insurance covers any accidental damage to the screen, keyboard or charger not covered by the manufacturer’s one-year warranty.
Many people don’t realize that this is actually Year 2 of the Google Chromebook program. It was piloted in some eighth grade classes last year and the results were outstanding.
This year, the program is being piloted in a handful of classes at the high school level in the hope of taking it live for all middle and high school students in time for next school year.
However, Lauletta cautions against putting the cart before the horse. “Our Chromebook experience was outstanding last year and we are very excited to try it among the entire middle school student body this year,” he said. “However, that was in a targeted environment.
“This year, we will take it to a much broader audience and I’m sure we will learn a lot of lessons through that experience as well as through the programs being piloted at the high school.
“l think we need to first analyze those lessons before we commit to anything beyond this school year.”
Superintendent Janell Logue-Belden, who implemented a similar program at her former school district, Avella, before coming to Deer Lakes, has overseen the project. She insists that the project is a necessary component of modern instruction.
“The One-to-One Technology Initiative is timely due to the overwhelming amount of research that suggests that there is a strong link between technological training and academic and professional success,” said Dr. Logue-Belden.
“When we also considered the emergence of digital convergence in our public educational system, it really became an important educational priority for the entire school district,” she said.