They’ve tried a pilot program at the city’s two middle schools, and in January, school officials will distribute convertible laptops to the rest of the students at Jefferson and Robertsville middle schools.
The pilot program was considered successful. It distributed more than 300 convertible laptops to about 190 seventh-grade students at Robertsville Middle School and roughly 130 sixth-grade students at Jefferson Middle School in November.
The laptops, which must be returned at the end of each school year, are part of a new program named Access Oak Ridge.
The students, grades 5 through 8, are using Lenovo Yoga 11e convertible laptops that can be used as laptops, tablets, tents, or stands. The children can use the computers for all subjects.
“After a successful digital pilot in one grade level each at the two middle schools, we are now taking the second step in the digital learning transformation for Oak Ridge Schools,” an Oak Ridge Schools press release said.
Here are some specific plans:
- The second rollout will include the fifth, seventh, and eighth grades at Jefferson Middle School and the fifth, sixth, and eighth grades at Robertsville Middle School.
- The orientation/device distribution will take place starting at 1:30 p.m. at Jefferson Middle School and starting at 2:30 p.m. at Robertsville Middle School on January 4. Parents will receive more specific information from the schools.
- Orientation and device distribution includes:
- policy/procedures/insurance discussion from school administrators
- digital citizenship talk from teachers about creating safe online environments for students
- device registration and roll out
- device testing with support of school staff
- question-and-answer session
- Students and parents will receive and sign a procedures and expectations document before receiving a device.
- Students will be receiving the Lenovo Yoga 11e as well as a charger, protective sleeve, and insurance for each device.
- Their laptops will be etched with the Oak Ridge Schools’ logo and address.
Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers has said about 20 percent of students don’t have access to a computing device at home. The so-called one-to-one devices provide an “equitable learning opportunity” for all children, Borchers said at the initial device rollout in November.
“As we begin this process and take it to where we are system-wide, it puts all the students on the same plane,” said Keys Fillauer, chair of the Oak Ridge Board of Education.
School officials said the laptops could help students who miss class. They will supplement textbooks for now, but electronic devices could someday replace textbooks.
The distribution of the Lenovo Yoga 11e laptops—along with chargers, protective sleeves, and insurance—is the first phase of the Oak Ridge Schools’ digital technology initiative.
Borchers said Knox County has several schools, possibly nine or 10, using one-to-one devices; Lenoir City has completed a pilot program and is “moving forward”; and Maryville has been using a 1:1 program for three years.
Still, it’s not about the devices, but rather about Access Oak Ridge, Borchers said. Teachers are still the number one factor in increasing student achievement, he said.
“We recognize that digital literacy has become essential to prepare students for college and career readiness in today’s world,” Borchers said when the initiative was introduced in August. “Numerous studies have shown that digital 1:1 initiatives raise student achievement and engagement. As part of our continued commitment to our students and the community, we’ve taken steps to ensure that every student receives a high-quality, 21st century education.”
The school system said Access Oak Ridge will enable greater “differentiated learning for ORS students, expand the classroom beyond the school walls, and help close the digital divide in a school district with an increasingly economically disadvantaged student population.
“Access Oak Ridge will also play a critical role in helping ORS retain and attract top educators, as well as area businesses and families choosing schools for their children,” officials said.
In addition, Access Oak Ridge will help middle school students prepare for the online state assessments beginning in the spring of 2016, officials said.
The student laptops have been estimated to cost about $1.2 million. The 1,520 Lenovo 11E Yoga convertible laptops for students are worth $805 each and will be used by children in grades 5-8.
Teachers in grades 5-8 will get 116 Lenovo Yoga 12s devices worth $1,165 each.
The 1,636 computing devices for middle school students and teachers could cost $1.36 million, purchased through a $1.59 million, four-year CalFirst equipment lease.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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Levi D. Smith says
I remember having to buy my own TI-85 graphing calculator when I was in high school. The parents should have to pay for their child’s laptop, or at least charge the parents a rental fee for using one from the school. Oak Ridge seems to be obsessed with spending and giving the taxpayers the bill.
Sam Hopwood says
When the demographics of the OR population is considered, there is no way that a significant number of parents could pay for these computers. OR tax payers can, and should, pony up for the expense of this project. Press on Dr. Borchers!! The majority of OR residents support you!!
Joseph Lee says
The future will be here in a minute. Thank you Sam. Happy Holidays.