Next school year, Dickinson Public Schools will begin a three-year implementation period for its 1:1 technology initiative, in which every student grades 2-12 will receive a Chromebook for school use.
"This next year, we’ll focus on 6th through 12th grade, primarily because a lot of our 6th grade already had some technology available, so it will be a relatively seamless venture," said Superintendent Shon Hocker.
The second year, grades 4 and 5 will receive their tech, and the third year, grades 2 and 3 will receive theirs.
High schoolers and middle schoolers will be able to take theirs home, though the elementary school Chromebooks will likely stay at school.
"I would imagine that most of the time, the computers would stay at the schools at the elementary levels and remain charged there, but certainly the door’s open in the event you’re a fourth grade teacher, and you’re wanting to do a project that’s going to require your kids to maybe have the ability to do some technology stuff after hours, then certainly we want to be able to send those devices home with those kids at that time," Hocker said.
Kindergarten and first grade students will have access to Chromebooks, as well, but in class sets, Hocker said.
The students will have the same Chromebook for four years; after which, they will receive a new one.
"It will also, I think, help kids take care of them because they know that they’re going to be using the same ones for four years, so don’t ruin it," Hocker said.
Students will be responsible for replacing their Chromebook if it becomes broken.
"They’ll all have cases so that they’ll be drop protected from minor accidents. Obviously if you chuck it across the room and really break it, you’ll be responsible to replace that, but that’s no different than a textbook," Hocker said.
At the end of the four years, students will receive a new Chromebook, and the old ones will become available for either them or the supplier to purchase, though those plans are not yet complete.
To help ease the transition, the district is hiring three teachers - one for elementary, one for middle and one for high school - to assist with the technology.
"Those three right now will be a great resource to our teachers as they build their plans and implement their technology initiatives," Hocker said.
Hocker said the district will take into account the internet accessibility of its students when determining what assignments can be required, though the details are still being worked out.
"We can’t blatantly assume that 100 percent of our families have internet at home, so we have to be careful with requiring kids to have internet ... High school level is a little bit easier for us because there are places all over town that offer free wifi, many of the restaurants offer free WiFi and you could go there and do your homework if you wanted to. Course the library’s in town and places like that. Usually the kids at the high school level are a little more mobile and they can get to places," he said.
Hocker said the 1:1 initiative will help the school move toward personalization of education.
"The goal with all of this is to empower our kids. It's all about taking on your own learning ... You need to be able to leverage some of the technology resources to create that flexibility within your day, so that as a teacher, you don't necessarily have to take all 25 kids and try to move them along at the same pace and at the same rate. We just know that kids aren't like that," he said. "That works for some of them; it might work for 60 or 80 percent of them, but there's still ... some other percentage of kids that need something else - a little more time, they need to revisit something in a different way. We need to open those doors for those kids."
He thinks it will come with some other benefits, too.
"I think that will be nice. No more needing to make an appointment to go to a computer lab to do some computer work. You'll have the technology right there ... save some trees, save some copy machines, hopefully saves us some overall expenses down the road, too, that will help offset the cost of the devices," he said.
The district is still working on all of the details, which will be made available in time for registration.