High school students to get Chromebooks next year

Activities Director Christopher Reilsono took the initiative to replace the old activities fair, which he felt was flawed.

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Activities Director Christopher Reilsono took the initiative to replace the old activities fair, which he felt was flawed.

All Baldwin High School students will get a Chromebook to use starting next school year.

At Wednesday night’s school board meeting, the school board approved the purchase of Chromebooks for all high school students.

Students and parents will attend a meeting in August where the school will distribute them. The Chromebooks will be ready for use on the first day of school, Director of Technology Dr. Janeen Peretin said.

The district is still looking into whether the Chromebooks would be loaned to students, or if the students would eventually be able to keep the devices as their own.

Setting up a “1 to 1” program, in which every student has a computer, has been part of the district’s four-year technology plan, which was first presented last year.

During this first year of the project, the district has been working on updating Internet connections throughout the building, so it can handle more devices. Getting high school students a Chromebook is part of the second year of the plan.

Giving students full-time access to a Chromebook will help encourage the development of skills needed in the modern workplace, Peretin said.

“I’m looking forward to having students collaborate on classroom assignments and work as a team,” she said.

It also will provide more equity in access to technology for work at home, since not every family has a computer with an Internet connection, she said.

At some point down the line, the Chromebooks could replace textbooks, since textbook publishers produce online versions of textbooks, Peretin said. These can then easily be updated.

The district chose Chromebooks rather than other devices like iPads because teachers and students already have been using G Suite, and because they are less expensive, Peretin said.

Dr. Daniel Harrold, who incorporates a lot of technology in his classroom, agreed that Chromebooks are a better choice than iPads.

“They are less clunky, with easy access to the Internet, where everything is synched and accessible,” Harrold said.

The district is still discussing whether students would be able  to take the Chromebooks home in the summers, after each school year ends, Peretin said.

Students were enthusiastic about the plan.

“It would be a very big step up, and very important,” freshman Ben Shelly said. “There would be more freedom to work anywhere.”

Senior Matt Flaig liked the plan, but wondered about whether the Chromebooks would end up damaged.

“Upkeep with the whole thing will be very difficult, and a new system of rules will have to be implemented,” Flaig said.

Peretin said the district is working out details on having insurance available to parents.