Introducing Chromebooks to Renton High School
September 17, 2018
This 2018-19 school year, Renton High School is taking big steps to evolve the approach to learning in an effort to provide equity and access to all students—including how students receive and manage classroom curriculum and assignments. All students will be given the chance to “check-out” Chromebooks by the end of September and use these devices every day as their personal laptops throughout the year. With this tremendous step comes great responsibility for students, but most of all, opportunity.
According to Renton School District’s website, Digital Learning is the “practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience and encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practices.” Having this 24/7 access to important apps and databases can promote “technology skills” and “individual problem-solving skills” while overall encouraging students to become independent with their learning. This access will enhance students’ abilities, providing them with 21st Century Skills, that they will need in the future.
Elian Chen, a full IB student at RHS, had plenty to share on this subject.
“I’m very excited! I’m full IB, so being able to access a laptop without having to go home or to the library is a very convenient thing,” explained Chen.
When asked about students who may misuse the laptops for purposes other than education, Chen felt the school should not worry about the students who could potentially mess around.
“Some might use them for entertainment, but most of the time they’ll probably use them for school work,” Chen replied.
Ellen Dorr, Chief Technology Officer for Renton School District, also had much to share about the concept of 1:1 schools.
“I think that we have a really strong instructional model that can be supported with digital learning and with access. I also think that students having their own devices that they can take home and use anywhere they need to really supports their learning,” Dorr shared.
After being asked about possible learning opportunities and potential challenges, Dorr presented the adaption of the learning culture at RHS, and that things will not always be easy.
“I think it’s always tough when we have some shifts in how we deliver instruction or how we interact with the world. I think all of us are figuring out what social media means for us—and to be a digital citizen responsibly—and I think there are a lot of ways this will challenge us,” Dorr describes.
Digital Citizenship is an important topic, especially when students are growing up and unaware of their images online. Knowing that the things they share might affect their futures, whether in college or in the workplace, is critical to acknowledge in education today. Dorr presents this topic perfectly.
“Our behavior offline can also impact our opportunities in the future. We do want to think about how we represent ourselves online, and how we always think about presenting our best selves so that what we put online is really representative of who we think we are,” shared Dorr.
Being ethical online is critical to being a responsible user. The school helps to protect students from being incompetent online by limiting or blocking certain websites with the district’s filtering systems. This is to keep students from visiting sites that are harmful or unsafe. While this may work under the school’s Wi-Fi, there are instances where certain devices will not be protected. Ms. Dorr shared these potential concerns.
“If you’re using your own device in your own hotspot, then you aren’t getting the filtering. So, we want to be really thoughtful about what is it that we need you to have access to, and how we insure that we are protecting you,” Dorr expanded.
Junior and part-time IB student at RHS, Stephanie Dennis also commented on the safety of the web while sharing her experience.
“I haven’t been blocked from a page, because I don’t search anything against school policy, but I’m sure some students do,” Dennis pondered.
When asked what she thinks about the filters on the web, Dennis responded, “I think they are good to have because they keep record if a student looked up something bad or illegal.”
Dennis also shared how “awesome” it is that the schools have decided to go digital.
“I think being able to have a way of online research on you at all times makes a student’s life easier,” Dennis shared.
Dennis is “stoked” about the switch and believes Renton has made a great decision in providing laptops for every student.
Thinking about the progression at Renton High School and the apparent changes in work ethic is, for many, exciting to see. Ellen Dorr spoke on this earlier in response to the change of the culture at RHS.
“I think students are really going to push us to expand the learning opportunities that we provide—things that are more important and relevant and connected to your future,” Dorr proclaimed.
Connecting the community through common devices, online and in the real world, is something RHS should look forward to in the near future. Like RHS junior, Stephanie Dennis mentioned earlier, “I think this will, most of all, encourage students to do their best.”
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