Southwest puts more Chromebooks in students' hands

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

About 75 more devices purchased at a cost of $20,000

The Southwest school district has been working diligently to implement its 1:1 initiative to put a Google Chromebook in the hands of all students and teachers.

The district has already equipped students grades 5-12 with a device, and it has begun the next phase of the initiative, which involves equipping fourth-grade classrooms with a device beginning next year.

"We're in our second year with the 1:1 initiative," said Bob Walker, Southwest superintendent. "Currently, grades five and nine through 12 are using Chromebooks. Grades six through eight are using KUNO tablets. We'll purchase enough Chromebooks so that each fourth grader will have one."

Approximately 75 devices will be purchased for this round, at a cost of about $20,000, Walker said.

Total cost to the district to complete the initiative was $300,000.

"Originally, we accessed approximately $300,000 with a lease purchase arrangement, to equip all students and teachers in grades five through 12 with a device," Walker said. "Currently, there is no set timeframe or targeted grade levels to fully implement 1:1. Certainly, we wanted to include middle school and high school initially, and most likely after 4th grade, we will take a hard look at third grade."

Students younger than third grade will continue having computer access as needed.

Walker said Google Chromebooks offer many academic and practical advantages to both students and teachers.

"When they are in use and for what subjects will be determined by the teachers," Walker said.

"Teachers use our technology devices for our literature eTechbook and science eTechbook," said Beverly Bonner, Southwest Middle School principal. "Assessments, virtual videos [for science] and projects can be done online through our eTechbooks."

Students can also develop slide presentations in groups or individuals and present to their class, and teachers can track students' progress through the eTechbooks or Google Drive.

"Through math, Chromebooks and KUNOs provide the capabilities to view tutorials if a student needs guidance in a previously taught math skill or an introduction to a new math skill," Bonner said. "Also, with our technology devices, each student has an e-mail account that can only be used within the realms of our school-based accounts. This allows teachers, principal, and office to easily disperse reminders, announcements and information about sports, trips, etc."

Sixth-eighth-graders are using KUNO devices, a type of Android tablet.

"The KUNOs are used for eTechbooks, Google Classroom and Google Drive," Bonner said. "These tablets are carried by students each day to each class. KUNOs add a freedom to be used in electives such as PE, art, drama and Spanish classes."

Fifth-grade students use Chromebooks and do not carry them from class-to-class.

"Chromebooks are used only for core subjects, Google Classroom and Google Drive in the fifth grade," Bonner said.

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