Students are taking charge and starting to own their learning. That’s a big change for them, and it’s sprung from the fact that they have a learning device with them at all times.
The district wanted to provide students with equal opportunity to use technology for learning; many students, however, don’t have internet access or devices at home. The district set out to introduce an entirely digital curriculum, with all learning resources available online, by spring 2015. They needed tools that would support the core curriculum at an affordable price, and that would be easy for a small IT department to manage.
In fall 2013, the district introduced Google Apps for Education. It was a grassroots effort: tech-savvy teachers helped train staff and students in their buildings how to use the tools. The schools introduced a 1:1 program with Chromebooks for all high school students in spring 2014. The district’s 4,600 high school students have their own Chromebooks, which gives them the flexibility and convenience to learn where and when they want, whether they’re in the hallways, cafeteria or classroom. Sixth grade classrooms are piloting Chromebooks, and classrooms for grades 2-5 have clusters of three or four Chromebooks for students to use in a collaborative setting. The district’s long-term plan is to roll out Chromebooks in a 1:1 setting for all students grades 2-12. “Students are taking charge and starting to own their learning,” Milnar-Stephens says. “That’s a big change for them, and it’s sprung from the fact that they have a learning device with them at all times.”