BATTLE GROUND — Battle Ground Public Schools is launching a 1:1 (one-to-one) computing initiative that will put a Chromebook into the hands of every student in grades third through 12th for use at school and at home.
Seventh-grade students at three middle schools will be the first to receive Chromebooks — a type of laptop computer that accesses educational applications on the Internet — through a pilot program launching next semester. Eventually, through a phased rollout, every student in grades third through 12th will be assigned a Chromebook.
“We believe technology plays a critical role in education, and we’re committed to providing tools for students to use at school and at home,” said Scott McDaniel, the district’s director of technology. “Providing this level of access prepares our students for 21st-century learning, increases student engagement, and enhances collaboration between students and their teachers.”
The 1:1 initiative launches next semester with a pilot program in seventh grades at Pleasant Valley, Tukes Valley and Amboy middle schools. Principals at these pilot locations have 1:1 program experience, and the seventh-grade instructors participate in Battle Ground’s Tech Academy program for teachers. The 1:1 initiative will be expanded to all seventh and eighth graders next fall, and then across one or two additional grade levels each year until all students in grades third through 12th have devices assigned to them.
The district chose Chromebooks for the 1:1 initiative because the devices are easy to manage, cost effective and compatible with the Google suite of education apps that the district has used for the past five years.
“Chromebooks are useful for school projects, accessing educational applications and websites and even completing state-required online testing,” McDaniel said. “Chromebooks also provide the most efficient use of available funding resources.”
Until the 1:1 program is rolled out to each grade level, Battle Ground students will have access to Chromebooks that are stored in carts and shared between classrooms. The district considered purchasing carts for each classroom, but assigning a Chromebook to each student will cost less than placing additional computer carts in classrooms, McDaniel said.
The 1:1 initiative is also a matter of equity.
“By assigning a computing device to each student, we’re empowering them to create and collaborate,” McDaniel said. “That’s transformative.”
By providing the same access to technology at school and at home, students who couldn’t otherwise afford a computer will be less likely to fall behind their peers academically. And because the devices work offline, students do not need Internet access to use the Chromebooks at home.
The district’s technology department has implemented considerable safeguards to make sure students are being responsible with the devices. The district is able to monitor students’ use and filter inappropriate content. This web filtering will be in effect no matter where students are connected to the Internet.
To prepare for 1:1, the district has placed a lot of emphasis on demonstrating for teachers how to incorporate technology into their lessons. Amie Mickle, who taught in her own classroom before becoming the district’s Educational Technology Coordinator, knows that staff professional development is key to a successful 1:1 initiative.
“Integrating technology in the classroom will eventually become as seamless as the integration of pencil and paper,” Mickle said. “Our teachers are beginning to use technology to redefine their lessons, to provide timely feedback for students, and to foster a collaborative and globally-minded classroom.”
By taking advantage of federal funding over the past several years, the district’s technology staff has been working behind the scenes to build the infrastructure necessary to support innovative technology education in Battle Ground schools.
“The result is that we have a strong, reliable and secure network that is ready and capable of supporting technology use by each student, every day, in all of our schools,” McDaniel said. “I’m really proud of the work our teachers have put into this program. Great things are happening in our classrooms, and seeing students prepare for their future is truly inspiring. It’s what we’re here for.”