1. What is the purpose of this project?
While the project obviously will bring additional technology to every high school student, the project is not about computers. This project is about providing unlimited access to learning for all students, enabling teachers with resources to engage students in challenging lessons, and equipping students with the skills needed for the future.
2. When did planning for the project begin?
Initial research into the possibility of a 1:1 computing initiative began in August 2009 through a small but active district committee. Only after much research, visits to other districts with similar projects, budgeting, and cost projections by the committee did the superintendent feel confident to present the proposal to the Board of Education for their consideration in May 2010. The initiative was passed unanimously by the Board of Education.
3. What is the long-term plan for this project?
The laptop project was launched using a four-year timeline. After four years, a new lease agreement was negotiated to continue the project on a four-year cycle. Money is being allocated each year by the board to provide adequate funding to maintain the project as a permanent approach to instruction.
4. Exactly what type of laptops will be issued to students?
With the exception of a few students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) which provide otherwise, all students will receive a Dell Chromebook 11 31180. These units offer much of the functionality of a full-size laptop in the convenience of a smaller platform.
5. What other items will be issued with the laptops?
The laptops will also be issued with an always-on case, power cord, power supply and two identification cards.
6. Will students only be able to use their laptops during the school day?
With the exception of some students with exceptional learning needs, all students will have access to their computers 24 hours per day, 7 days per week (24/7). Students who abuse this privilege or their computers may have their access limited to daytime use only for a period of time or perhaps the entire year. However, the goal is for all students to have use of their computers 24/7 from the time they are issued until the end of the school year.
7. Why would I want to take the laptop home if I don’t have internet access?
There are at least three reasons: 1) Students will be provided time each day to download any necessary file attachments to their laptops that may be needed. 2) Wireless "hot spots" will be made available near the parking area at the high school and each elementary school so that students may connect to the internet outside any school in the district after regular school hours.
8.Will pencil and paper assignments still be used?
Yes, of course. The use of laptop computers will greatly change the teaching and learning process over time. Meanwhile students will continue to use pencil, paper, textbooks, and other resources in addition to their laptops. As the project progresses, students and teachers alike will develop skill in using a broad range of technology tools for maximum learning opportunities through a balanced approach.
9. How will the laptop project change teaching at the high school?
For several years, all students in Hart County have benefited from interactive classrooms with ACTIVboards, projectors, DVD/VCRs, audio systems, document cameras, and student response systems (or "clickers.") The addition of laptops at the high school has allowed students to access information on-demand—both independently and as part of specific class activities and assignments. Over time, the use of laptops will allow students and teachers to individualize instruction, engage in a broader range of learning activities, and assess learning in different ways.
10. What measures will be in place to protect students from inappropriate content on the internet?
In addition to continuing to use the "proxy server" which records all internet activity, a new network appliance is in place which will allow greater ability to protect students since it both identifies and blocks inappropriate websites through keywords and web traffic patterns. More importantly, this solution includes a client on the laptop that provides this same protection whether the computer is used at school, home, or any internet connection.
11. What technical permissions will students have on their laptops?
Students will be able to install appropriate programs as well as demonstrate responsibility for caring for their computers. Students will be assigned the same laptop each year they are enrolled at the high school.
12. How will student laptops be distributed?
After the appropriate signed permission forms have been submitted and the student use fee has been paid, laptop orientation will be provided to students in small groups during the school day. Laptops will be distributed directly to students at the end of the orientation session. Laptops will not be distributed during the parent orientation session; however, a $25 reduction in the computer use fee will be made when at least one parent or guardian attends a parent orientation session.
13. Who is involved in implementing the project?
All high school teachers—those most directly involved in the day-to-day implementation—have benefited from three days of training on technology integration, and support will continue through bi-weekly meetings and other approaches. D.L. Talley (computer technician) will coordinate technical support for the student laptops. Tracy Sims (curriculum-instruction-technology specialist) will provide technical and instructional support. Shane Butler (network administrator and district technology coordinator) are heavily involved in technical issues and logistics of the project. Central office personnel (Nathan Smith, Debbie Fowlerand Angela Frank will provide follow-up support to teachers.
14. What student fees are required?
An advisory committee recommended a nominal student use fee which students will pay each year. At a special meeting in August 2011, the Board of Education adopted the recommended fee of $50—with the provision that the fee be reduced to $25 for students whose parent/guardian attend one of the parent orientation sessions. This is the only fee that most students will pay. For students who neglect or abuse their laptop, however, additional repair fees will apply.
15. Will there be training for parents?
Yes. An orientation session will be provided for all parents. The session will be offered at numerous and varying times and will provide information on student responsibilities in caring for the laptops, how they will be used as part of instruction, technical tips, and appropriate use. Each orientation will also include a question/answer session. A $25 reduction in the student use fee will be made for students whose parent/guardian attend a parent orientation session.
16. When will the orientation for parents occur?
Numerous sessions will be scheduled during the school day, after school, and during evening hours to accommodate parents’ varying schedules.
17. Must students attend the orientation session with their parents/guardians?
Students are encouraged to attend the session with their parent(s)/guardian(s) if they select an after school session, but they are not required to do so.
18. What training will students receive?
Before laptops are distributed, students will participate in an orientation session which addresses basic computer care, appropriate use, and technical issues. Student orientation sessions will occur during the school day.
19. Who is responsible if a laptop is damaged?
If the damage is the result of normal use, there will be no cost to the student or parent/guardian, unless there is a recurring pattern of questionable use or repairs. However, if damage occurs as the result of neglect, deliberate misuse, or intentional action, the student and parent/guardian are responsible for repair fees ranging from $25 to $800 depending on the nature of the repair.
20. Will "spare" laptops be available when a computer is out for repair?
Yes, a significant number of computers will be available to provide students a loaner laptop when computer repairs are necessary on their assigned computers. However, it is important to note that students will need to keep current backups of important files using a flash drive, network drive, or online resource (such as a sky drive).
21. What technical support will be available for this project?
Within the high school, a position has been provided for a Computer Technician to specifically support this project. In addition, the school will provide a "student help desk." Information on becoming part of the student help desk will be provided during the student orientation. The high school’s curriculum-instruction-technology (CIT) specialist will also provide technical and instructional support. In addition, the district will provide support through the network administrator.
22. Can parents get specific information about students’ use of the laptops?
Yes, the network appliance which will minimize access to inappropriate content includes a wide variety of reporting options. If teachers, administrators, or parents have questions or concerns related to internet activity, they can obtain additional information by calling the central office at 524-2631 and asking for Shane Butler.
Will students be able to purchase their computer at the end of the year?
At the end of the year, Dell will provide a quote based on the current market value of the computers at that time. Students will have 30 days from receipt of the quote to purchase the computer at that time if they wish to do so.
23. How is the project being funded?
This project is being funded primarily through the general fund budget by the Board of Education. A small portion of the project, less than 5 percent, will be supported through categorical grants, such as Title IID and KETS (state technology funds). No special, one-time funds are being used to fund the project. ARRA (stimulusfunds) did allow the district to save money in other areas; these savings helped offset the start-up costs of the project this year.
24. How will funds for this project impact other areas, such as staffing and technology?
No funding areas have been reduced for this project. The staffing formula for all schools has remained the same as in past years; technology funding to schools has been maintained; and no funds from other major sources, such as Title I, have been budgeted for this project.
25. How will the student fees for computers be used?
The student use fees are not included in the budget as a primary source of funding to support or continue the project. The student fees will assist with some basic operating costs (such as replacement batteries, printer toner, etc.) and also help students realize the personal responsibility they have for caring for the laptops.
26.Will the laptop connect to my home network/internet?
Yes, the student laptops wireless cards can easily connect to home networks and public wi-fi. .
27. Will laptops be checked out to students over the summer, too?
It will be mandatory to turn in all laptops at the end of the school year for inventory and technical purposes as they are prepared for use the following school year. However, students needing laptops for specific educational purposes during the summer may request to check out computers during the summer.
28. What preventive maintenance will be provided for laptops?
Software updates will be distributed to laptops across the school network.
29. What if I have concerns or suggestions?
Input and suggestions from every source are encouraged and will be appreciated. Questions can be directed to any member of the Advisory Committee or submitted to Laptop Q&A