2013-08-10 / News

Lakewood considering one-to-one computing

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – Lakewood Superintendent Jay Gault wants the school district to adopt “one-toone computing,” but that’s the only certainty for now. “There is no timeline,” he said. Other districts have taken anywhere from 12 to 28 months to implement the program, and Gault’s not sure how much the program would cost.

The Education World web site says one-to-one computing means placing a computer – a PC, laptop, handheld, or tablet PC – into every student’s hands. Stated benefits for one-to-one computing include increasing student achievement and engagement, complimenting project-based learning, and preparing students for tomorrow’s workplace.

Gault said two questions must be answered before implementing a one-to-one computing program – how to fund it, and what are the goals? He said “sustainable” funding is needed, meaning the district couldn’t rely on a one-time grant to maintain the program. Gault also said that parents wouldn’t be stuck with the full price of purchasing computers for their children to use at school and at home. He said the most likely scenario is that the district would have access to lower prices for equipment and each computer would be paid for over several years. The student would own the computer following graduation and would have it for college or work.

Gault said he’s been communicating with districts that have implemented one-to-one computing to learn what to do, and what not to do while creating a program. He said generally school districts begin with the high school and work back through the grades to kindergarten, but it doesn’t necessarily have to work that way. Gault said the Lakewood School Board would likely assemble a committee of parents, staff, and teachers to explore one-to-one computing; the committee would likely have many of the members, if not all of them, of the existing technology committee.

Education World states that research shows one-to-one computing leads to increased quality and quantity in writing: Some preliminary studies suggest that students not only write more, but write better, when using laptops rather than pen and paper.

Research shows greater student collaboration. The Center for Applied Research in Education Technology (CARET) has research, suggesting that students improve interpersonal abilities and teamwork skills through collaboration using laptops and handhelds.

One-to-one computing may lead to greater teacher awareness of student progress. CARET also cites research that appears to demonstrate that teachers can better monitor, or can monitor in more varied ways, student understanding and application of skills and concepts through one-to-one technology.

In addition, some empirical evidence exists that students’ organizational skills improve in the one-to-one-computing classroom. Papers no longer are lost in the bottom of lockers or in cars or digested by dogs, teachers say.

Other educators have observed a shift in social dynamics in teching classrooms. Students who create the most elaborate PowerPoint presentations, can run a projector, or edit video are more accepted -- and even more popular -- as students in every social clique want to do the very best they can with technology.

However, Education World says some critics argue that too many schools emphasize technology over learning. Being able to surf the Internet or create an elegantly designed word processing document, they say, doesn’t mean that students understand math better or are better able to use critical thinking skills.

Others complain that laptops and handhelds distract from learning rather than enhance it. Rather than taking lecture notes, students are watching videos, surfing the Internet, or instant messaging friends and strangers. For some teachers, the resulting classroom management issues outweigh the benefits of one-toone computing.

Lack of student and teacher training also is a concern. Often, students are given laptops and teachers are told to start teaching with them, when they themselves are new to the technology. With little training and a lot of administrative pressure, many teachers have students take notes in Word or surf online and call it technology integration. Laptops are expensive typewriters, and relying on the Internet for most (or all) of one’s research is risky. Without significant support for teacher training, the cost-benefit ratio of one-to-one computing rarely is justified.

In other district news:

• Gault said the district has contracted with the Licking County Sheriff’s Office to have a deputy on campus throughout the upcoming school year. He said the deputy will travel randomly between buildings. Gault said the deputy will visit Hebron Elementary, but will concentrate on the Licking Township campus because Hebron Police regularly patrols Hebron Elementary.

Gault said the district resumed contracting with the sheriff’s office last year following the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy Dec. 14. Gault said sheriff’s deputies have not experienced any major incidents while patrolling Lakewood.

• Gault said he does not expect Solar Planet Company will have any of the district’s planned 16- acre solar array operational by the first day of school, as Solar Planet and AEP haggle over an interconnection agreement. Otherwise, all the technology is ready to go. Gault said Solar Planet told him at a minimum the high school would have solar power by the beginning of this school year, but that’s not the reality. “It’ll happen; it’s just in my mind, when,” he said. “There is no question it will happen.

• The installation of new windows in the middle school is “coming along well,” said Gault, and will be 95 percent complete by the first day of school this year. Any remaining work will be done outside of school hours.

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