Update on the district 1:1 program


Samantha Himegarner

Junior Greta Harris and senior Chloe Fullenkamp work at a Chromebook together. Every student in the school has received their own Chromebook with which they can complete schoolwork, access email, and browse the Internet.

Sydney Jezik, News Editor

The 1:1 Chromebook program has been in full use the past month of school for Waunakee students grades 5-12.“I think the one-on-one program is going well,” said senior Alesha Steuart. “There are some issues but I know that our IT department is working hard to fix those issues to make the program more efficient and effective.”

In the past, the Waunakee school district operated on a Chromebook cart program. Specifically, the high school owned 17 carts with 30 Chromebooks each. These were shared among the entire staff. While the program seemed to work for many students, there were several underlying issues, including the fact that teachers would sometimes only need carts for 10 minutes but would only be able to register for the cart for the whole 85-minute block. This created teacher complaints when they could not access Chromebooks for their students when they needed them, or where they would have to send students during class to find carts, interrupting learning time. Not only was this a difficulty for both teachers and students, but having school-specific Chromebooks meant that students who did not own phones, who had to share computers at home, or who altogether did not own computers, could not complete online assignments at home.

Therefore, beginning on Tuesday, September 4th, individual Chromebooks were issued to every student in grades 5-12. Prior to distribution, a Digital Learning Plan was signed by district parents.

The process of figuring out grade assignments and optimal Chromebook models began the second semester of last school year with student “pilots”. Several students from different grades were asked to use different Chromebooks to finish their schoolwork for several weeks.

“We told them, ‘here’s like 5 different models of
Chromebook.’ We let them play around with them for a couple of weeks . . . the best Chromebook was the ACER,” said Director of Technology Herb Haubrich. Freshman have been assigned brand-new ACER 300 Chromebooks, while sophomores received new ACER 100 models. “The touchscreen is the only difference. Other than that, they’re identical,” said Haubrich. Juniors received a mix of old and new ACER 100 Chromebooks, and seniors received only Chromebooks previously owned by the school. This is because, as Haubrich said, seniors will only keep their Chromebooks for a year before graduating. Similar reasoning was also applied in giving freshmen brand-new Chromebooks and older students used ones.

Pricing factored in, too. “When decided what was the best, we looked at the pricing and decided what kind of prioritization we wanted. We wanted to give it to the freshmen because they were the ones we would get reimbursed for,” said Haubrich. This was because the district cost of the 1:1 program was about $90,000 for the freshmen, and the state reimbursed the Chromebooks of that grade only. The cost for the other classes, including the middle school, was about $95,000. This figure came from the existing tech budget and replaced the amount that would normally be spent replacing and repairing Chromebooks in the cart program. Therefore, with money from the state and from the already allotted tech budget, no extra money was spent on the 1:1 program.

The school has adjusted to keep up with the 1:1 program. Background work includes the optimization of APs (WiFi access points) across the school for Chromebook usage. Because of this, Chromebooks are not on the school’s guest WiFi, like phones are. Haubrich says that this will therefore cause no connection drag for phones. He adds that computers students bring from home will have to be on the guest network as well.

The 1:1 program currently works the same as textbooks do as far as distribution goes. This means that they will be handed in during finals week in the spring and picked back up in the fall. Every student has their own Chromebook, meaning that they will receive the same one every year, and data on the Chromebooks will not be touched over the summer. Graduating seniors will not keep their Chromebooks.

Haubrich had this to say on the subject of decorating Chromebooks: “There’s a lot of districts that allow it. I think that for the most part, we kind of want to see how things progress. I don’t see that being a rule all the time, it’ll be relaxed, but for now while it’s brand new and we’ll collect them at the end of the year and clean them up, we just want to get a feel for how things will go.”

“As of now, we’re thinking not, so we can do clean repairs. But as kids take more and more online classes it’s something we’ll have to discuss and maybe even take a survey of the student population,” said technology integrator Rebecca Cassel about taking students taking Chromebooks home over the summer.

Commonly taken classes that require summer Internet access include Online Fitness and AP US History.

Students do not need to pay for their Chromebooks unless extenuating circumstances require it. Haubrich explained when students would have to reimburse the school for their Chromebook. “If there was any kind of malicious device abuse, like slamming on the ground or if they threw it against the wall or if they wrecked another student’s . . . if they purposely destroyed a Chromebook,” said Haubrich. Accidents and wearand-tear are covered by the district, so a student only needs to bring their Chromebook to the library if those occur.

Chromebooks have made printing somewhat of an issue, too. Chromebooks automatically connect to the LMTC printers, but when one is upstairs and trying to print, having to travel all the way to the LMTC is highly inconvenient. Additionally, too many students using the LMTC printers would rapidly overload the library. The administrative staff is exploring the possibility of buying new printers to place around the school. Specifically, they are discussing putting one in the 1500 hallway, by Mrs. Hemminger’s room, and one in the 1400 hallway, by Mrs. Carothers’s room.

Students with concerns about their Chromebook should first go to the LMTC. “We do want kids to come to the library if they have any technical issues,” said Cassel. “We are starting a student help desk . . . so students would come to other students.” She added that a possibility for student support may be the addition of a new icon on the Waunakee High School website home page. Further, if a student’s Chromebook will not work, or if they have even forgotten it, the LMTC can lend them one for several days. Finally, if a Chromebook just needs cleaning, a cleaning station has been set up in the LMTC for that purpose.

Teachers and faculty members are looking out to keep Waunakee Community School District accommodating for every student, no matter their individual means. The 1:1 Chromebook program is a part of that effort.