Board ap­proves new Chrome­books for eighth-graders

By up­grad­ing only eighth grade, dis­trict an­tic­i­pates $16K in sav­ings

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - LOCAL NEWS - By Laura E. Quain For Digital First Media

The Kutz­town School Board ap­proved the pur­chase of new Chrome­book lap­tops for Kutz­town Area Mid­dle School 8th graders dur­ing their May 15 meet­ing.

“We’re look­ing at do­ing a very dif­fer­ent plan, some­thing that is unique,” said Di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tional Tech­nol­ogy Dr. Scott Hand. “It’s look­ing at get­ting a va­ri­ety of de­vices for our stu­dents, one of those be­ing the Chrome­book, but also rein­vest­ing in some of the other op­tions that we have as well.”

Chrome­books will be pur­chased through a pro­gram called “Right De­viceRight Time.” The pro­gram ex­am­ines the learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment of par­tic­u­lar stu­dents and eval­u­ates that right de­vice to suite their learn­ing needs. Each de­vice, along with a case, would cost about $250, which is less than an iPad Mini, ac­cord­ing to Hand. By up­dat­ing only the 8th grade, the dis­trict is look­ing at about $16,000 in sav­ings.

Hand ob­served that the school dis­trict is heav­ily fo­cused on blended learn­ing and dif­fer­en­ti­ated in­struc­tion. He looked at the ap­pli­ca­tions cur­rently be­ing used by the dis­trict and it fo­cused on de­vices that sup­port the cur­rent learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

“What we want to do is ba­si­cally get a va­ri­ety of de­vices and a va­ri­ety of tools that’ll en­able our stu­dents to be able to se­lect the right de­vice at the right time,” said Hand. “They can choose from the Chrome­books that will be in front of them daily. They can choose from iPads. We will still have iPads. We will still have Macbook lap­tops. We will still have iMacs in the com­puter lab. They will also have el­e­ments for vir­tual re­al­ity, green screen, video cam­eras. They will have all of these things avail­able at their dis­posal.”

The cur­rent fo­cus is on sec­ondary stu­dents be­cause they are writ­ing in a longer for­mat than they were pre­vi­ously.

“We didn’t want to limit our­selves to just one de­vice,” said Hand. “We’re do­ing some­thing that is very unique com­pared to other school dis­tricts, it’s some­thing that’s in­struc­tion­ally fo­cused, too. We’re not just do­ing it be­cause ev­ery­one else is do­ing it as well.”

From this pro­gram, the stu­dents can gain tech­nol­ogy skills, plat­form ver­sa­til­ity, skill trans­fer­ence and im­proved de­ci­sion mak­ing abil­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to Hand, the Chrome­book of­fers a full web browser ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We can al­ways pivot back, but what we know right now is that Chrome­books are what is go­ing to work best, and it’s built into the cur­rent tech­nol­ogy bud­get,” said Hand.

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