The one-to-one laptop program at Masco was launched this year for incoming freshmen and sophomores.
This program has been in planning stages since 2011. The district began to embrace digital content and support, “teachers in their creativity and innovation around integrating technology appropriately in the classroom,” said director of digital learning Ben Hodges.
With limited computer labs and devices already in the school, students are better able to do research, use Google Drive, interact with digital media, work together on WeVideo, and complete Blackboard assignment during class with their own individual laptops.
The program is currently only focused on freshmen and sophomores so the school can work out any problems with the new technology. They are working out any weak spots in the wireless internet to ensure consistent access throughout the school. By only introducing the program to two grades, problems can be fixed without affecting the entire school.
Students are able to use their laptops to take notes, work on essays and projects, use online textbooks, or even use a graphing calculator app rather than buying a calculator.
Hodges said the reaction to the program has so far been positive, but sophomore Leigh Applestein had different feelings.
“The teachers don’t accommodate to using the computers during class,” said Applestein. “This year I still have four textbooks, and we barely use the internet in class.”
Applestein said the transition from paper to digital has not been very smooth because teachers are not utilizing the new technology. Many students have had to get jobs and save their money to buy their own laptops and are not using them as much as they would have liked to.
Masco did give students options on different types of laptops and ways to buy them to potentially decrease the cost. Currently, Chromebooks and MacBook Airs are the primary types of laptops being used. Students could buy them individually, through the school, or sign one out for the day through the library. A scholarship program is also an option as such devices are generally expensive.
One goal for the program is that it will help students’ preparedness for college.
“We hope our students will recognize that technology is simply a tool that helps them accomplish tasks efficiently,” said Hodges.
Personal laptops have been working better with the school’s wireless internet than the tablets and networks used in previous years. Those devices were much slower and frequently died because students forgot to plug them in at the end of their classes.
“It is nice to have something that works well when I need it,” said sophomore Emma Mair.
Mair, like Applestein, has not used her laptop in school as much as she would like. “I like having my laptop in school in the event that I ever actually need it,” she said, “but mostly it's just an extra pound or two added to what I normally carry in my backpack every day.”
While Mair and Applestein both had mixed feelings about the laptops, freshman Maddie Peterson was fairly neutral on the topic.
“I didn't have much of a reaction [to the laptop program],” said Peterson. “It was just another school supply.”
Moving forward, Masco will highlight the best parts of the program and use those to improve and expand upon it, hopefully making the program a benefit for students and teachers rather than a burden.