District works to make 1:1 technology possible for 2017-18

Individual Chromebooks to allow for additional learning opportunities

Caroline Barger, Reporter

Last year, USD 373 invested in order to update the wireless at each school in the district. The high school went from having around 30 access points (AP) to over 150 AP with the intent to plan for the future technology that will be coming to the district.
“As we look into 21st century learning and where we believe kids need to be when they graduate high school, whether that be to college or trade schools or they are going straight to the work force. They need to be able to not only have soft skills like being on time, but also the technology end of things,” Director of Technology Services Brenda Thompson said.
Throughout the summer many things will be completed in order to allow each student to have an individual Chromebook during the 2017-18 school year.
“There is actually going to be a lot of work here. All of the Chromebooks will be coming in and we will have to unpackage every device. After unpackaging them, we will then configure them for our network and set them up with each student’s ID number and name and get them ready to be checked out when students come back in the fall,” Computer Tech Brenda Barger said.
Although these Chromebooks will be given to each student at the beginning of the year, it does not come without a price. Currently students are required to pay a book fee and a physical education fee during enrollment. However, beginning next year, students will also have to pay a technology fee before receiving their device.
“There will be a tech fee for each year and that is not to cover damage or insurance, it is just so that you will be able to use that device and we are able to keep them maintained and replace them when needed,” Thompson said.
The current restrictions on internet access for students will still apply when each student has their own Chromebook.
“You have access to a certain amount of things because you are a student. When you log into a Chromebook, you are just logging onto the web. So anything that you are certainly able to access through the internet you will still be able to get to and those things that are blocked will still be blocked,” Thompson said.
Computer technicians employed by the district work throughout the summer, unlike regular teachers. Work is being done not only throughout the high school, but every school in the district preparing for the upcoming school year. However, not all of the work that is done will be directly related to preparing the high school for one-to-one technology.
“As far as the building itself we also have other upgrades going on, all the math labs that certainly have desktops will all be replaced with laptops. We also have to take the certain laptop carts that we have and those all have to be cleaned up and wiped clean of all the profiles,” Barger said.
Each student having a device in their hands at all times will allow for the opportunity to do online homework at any point during the school day and become more familiar with 21st century learning.
“It gives the students a good sense of responsibility, it will also make it easier to complete your work in all areas of the building…Students won’t have to wait for a laptop or wait and check one out, you will be able to stay in class and work,” Barger said.
Additionally, Thompson believes students will learn skills that will be beneficial to them even after their education career.
“They need to be able to not only have soft skills like being on time, but also the technology end of things. Obviously we live in a world that depends on it and students need to be able to use it and not just for the simple things like word processing or creating a spreadsheet,” Thompson said. “We want students to be well rounded when they get out of high school and be able to compete with students from other districts, for jobs, places in trade school and college.”