Bay High to pilot one-to-one computer program
Students at Bay High School have been allowed to bring their own internet-connected devices -- phones, tablets and laptops -- to school for quite some time. This fall, along with getting their textbooks, Bay High freshmen and sophomores will be issued Google Chromebooks. Students will be able to take the compact laptops home and keep them until they return them at the end of the school year.
“The timing is good for this,” said Superintendent Clint Keener. “We’ve had an opportunity to watch other districts roll out one-to-one programs, and we have learned from some of their challenges.”
Teachers throughout the district have been training to integrate technology into lessons in truly effective ways, noted Bay High Principal Jason Martin. “The access to technology doesn’t magically make for better learning,” he said. “It’s the way teachers use it that makes it effective. Our teachers are ready to take advantage of this additional technology access for students.”
The school board has been investing in classroom technology in several ways. Dollars from a bond issue passed in 2012 funded upgrades for internet access for every building, eliminating “dead zones” that would not let students connect. Funds from the Cleveland casino were earmarked for technology, allowing the purchase of classroom sets of Chromebooks for instruction and online testing. In addition, a new technology coordinator was hired to not only oversee hardware, software and network issues, but to help teachers plan how they could best use technology to help their students learn.
“We’re much better prepared to make the most of one-to-one computers now than we would have been even a year ago,” Keener said. “And we’re in a position where we needed to add more classroom Chromebook sets anyway.”
The district's Director of Curriculum, Char Shryock, said that teachers are now finding supplemental learning materials online, or even creating their own in digital formats. “Students need access to all the resources teachers are using, and they often need to access them from home,” she said. “While the majority of our families have home internet connections, they may have only one computer that family members share.” Shryock said students having their own Chromebooks, loaded with all the applications they use in school, would remove obstacles that could interrupt or prevent a student from doing homework or exploring a study topic.
“By putting the technology into the hands of the students, we are allowing them to determine how to use the tool to help them be successful learners,” she said. She explained that students can use the Chromebooks to more easily collaborate on projects and research topics, communicate what they have learned to their teachers and peers, and apply innovative approaches to a problem or task.
Brian Reynolds, the district’s Technology Coordinator, said that the plan is to issue Chromebooks to freshmen and sophomores this year, and to new freshmen and seniors the following year. All grade levels at Bay High will be on the one-to-one program within two years.
“This year, we will be focusing on perfecting the management of these computers," said Reynolds. "We’ll make sure parents are comfortable with how we’re protecting them from damage liability or any other worries they may have. Of course, we’ll also be working with teachers to ensure we make the most of this new resource.”
Students and their parents will need to consent to a special user agreement, and a small fee will cover potential damages or losses of the equipment. “These are very sturdy laptops,” said Reynolds, noting that they have heavy-duty cases and will come with protective shells. If lost, the computers can be remotely disabled so they cannot be used by anyone other than the student.