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Mayfield’s 1:1 Initiative Proactively Addresses Possible Issues

Abhi Siri, Staff Writer

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As you may have heard, Mayfield students grades 5-12 are being given personal Chromebooks next year through by a program developed by Mayfield called the 1:1 Program. This indicates a 1:1 ration whereby each student has access to a computer both at home and at school. How will the 1:1 Program benefit students? And what possible issues might arise as a result of this initiative?

The article announcing the 1:1 program on the Mayfield website states that the program “gives student unprecedented access to technology and online learning.” However, any person knows that you can’t just waltz in with boxes of Chromebooks and expect the 1:1 program to run smoothly.

One of the problems a successful 1:1 initiative faces is keeping students on task and safe online. This has already been a major concern for Mayfield’s Tech Department. According to John Duplay, the technology director at Mayfield, “There are always ways around our filter and I.T. is aware.  Nothing is foolproof.  However students do have a code of conduct and there are board policies in place for any violations.  As well, building principals have always enforced these policies and dealt with violators in an appropriate manner.”

Mr. Destino added that “the science teachers will be teaching students ways to stay safe online” in an attempt to control student behavior and minimize exploitation of VPNs, an issue that hasn’t yet reached the ears of Mr. Destino.

But will this be enough? Probably yes. Studies have shown that doing simple measures such as having a frequently posted Codes of Conduct can prevent cheaters  on online tests. This same strategy can be employed with the 1:1 initiative. Doing simple things like taping the code of conduct to the Chromebook carts can reduce the number of students who wander off online by making them more conscious of their actions.

Another problem that many institutions and schools have is upgrading WiFi networks to support a large number of devices. Mr. Duplay stated, “We recently upgraded our entire infrastructure at the high school in advance of the 1:1.  This includes 10 gig fiber between data closets, CAT 6 cabling to each classroom and new Cisco access points for each.” Those technical terms you may not be too familiar with are terms describing ways to strengthen a WiFi signal. He also said, “In preparation for the middle school 1:1, we are following a similar approach this summer as well for the MS infrastructure upgrade.  In addition, we have added an additional internet provider just for our 1:1 Chromebook initiative, so that all these devices have a reliable connection to the internet.” Adding an entirely different service provider and WiFi network will be helpful mainly in eliminating the current problem of slow WiFi for the Chromebooks and a major problem in many institutions giving devices to every employee/student.

Mr. Duplay also mentioned that teacher computers, office computers, and other computers are on separate networks to help ease any strain on the WiFi.

Another problem that the Mayfield 1:1 Initiative is facing is training staff to use Classroom, Google Drive, and other Google features. Some staff have been trained in this feature–piloting Chromebook use the last two years–and almost all staff have gone to a training or professional development session about using Google Apps for Education (as Google calls them).  A group of teachers have been instructed on “blended learning,” according to Mr. Destino. Those teachers will be able to mentor other teachers with the use of Google Apps For Education and the general use of Chromebooks in the classroom.

There are still questions for some: What happens when a student is irresponsible with the Chromebook but is unable to afford repairs or a replacement?  What happens when a teacher has planned an entirely digital or online lesson and a student’s Chromebook is not functioning or charged properly?  How will teachers effectively monitor off-task behaviors or inappropriate use, which is often easy to hide in a whole-class setting?   These are issues that will need to be addressed, but the answers may not be clear until Mayfield implements next year.

So don’t worry! Your teacher knows exactly what to do with Chromebooks and Google Classroom, and the district is well-prepared for what could have been chaos.

 

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Mayfield’s 1:1 Initiative Proactively Addresses Possible Issues