The Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) is preparing to adopt a one-on-one laptop initiative starting next fall.
Like many Eastside school districts, including Bellevue School District and Lake Washington School District, the one-to-one laptop initiative is becoming more common.
With the passage of the most recent technology levy in 2018, SVSD will be providing each secondary student grades 6-12 with access to a computer — an initiative called one-to-one computing. Jeff Hogan, the district’s superintendent of teaching, learning and technology, said the district has been working toward one-to-one for a while.
The district currently has in-school laptops for students to use, but they can’t be taken home. While Hogan said the in-school laptops have been beneficial to students and teachers, he said the new laptop initiative will enhance the overall academic experience.
In the summer of 2018, the district launched the initiative with significant infrastructure upgrades throughout the district in order to prepare the network and systems for the dramatic increase in devices.
The next phase of this project will include providing laptop computers to all middle and high school students to use at school and at home. The assignment process will be phased in over the course of the next 12 months, starting with students at Snoqualmie Middle School and Mount Si High School in the fall of 2019. The program will continue to equip students at Chief Kanim Middle School, Twin Falls Middle School and Two Rivers School, later in the school year. Each fall thereafter, the district will assign devices to all incoming sixth graders and new students.
“We’ve been looking for ways to take us to the next level in terms of academics and technology,” Hogan said. “On average, teachers spend the first five minutes of class handing out the laptops and then another five minutes at the end of class collecting the laptops… The initiative will ultimately make class time much more efficient.”
The district will be issuing close to 3,500 Acer Travelmate Spin B1 Convertible laptops next year. Hogan said the district chose that particular laptop based on its durability, 13-hour battery life, full features and digital inking.
“In speaking with our teachers and students about what their needs are in a device, we found that this computer best fits their needs,” Hogan said.
A handbook has been created around the new laptop initiative, detailing the intended uses of the laptops, damages/losses/repairs and safety instructions.
The laptops will be equipped with the same anti-virus software and screening software used throughout the district.
The district is also sensitive to concerns that issuing laptops may increase screen time usage.
According to a district press release, training for teachers will provide practical advice and strategies for limiting student access to technology for classroom activities that do not require technology.
“Student training for the one-to-one program will help students learn and maintain good digital habits, that we hope will last a lifetime,” the release said. “Both teachers and parents will have access to tools to help monitor student usage and will be encouraged to engage in conversations on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.”
The district believes issuing students district laptops and allowing students to use the laptops at home will close an equity gap among students.
“The new laptop initiative will give all kids equal access to technology at school and at home,” Hogan said. “I’ve heard so many stories of how a family only has one computer at home that has to be shared between three, four, five people a day. With this initiative, all students will have access to a device for their schoolwork at home or wherever they are.”
Students will have access to the same tools “aligned with teaching and designed to best support their learning,” according to the district press release.
For more information about the one-to-one laptop initiative, go to the district website. Next fall, MSHS parents will have an opportunity to learn more and ask questions. Students at SMS and MSHS will receive information in the fall when devices will be distributed.