MICHAEL CARPENTER STAFF WRITER
At the end of the 2012-2013 school year the 1:1 Laptop Program was announced. The program requires students that have not recently purchased a PC computer to bring a functioning Apple computer to school each day. Though many teachers have noted the program’s benefits, overall responses have been mixed and questions regarding its merits are valid concerns for teachers.
One of the core issues at hand is the program’s inability to benefit all departments at an equal level.
World Languages and Culture Department Head Lanting Xu said that the language department is “benefitting considerably” from the program. “In the past, students had to go to the language lab, and there were only limited time slots for the teachers to use the language lab,” she said.
However, other departments don’t see nearly as many perks to the program. Head of English Department Meghan Tally noted that though the program hasn’t had a huge impact, English teachers are grateful for the ease with which students can produce a laptop from their bags.
Some feel it is an issue of the subject being taught rather than the department itself.
Math Teacher Tony Bracht said that some subjects have more online resources readily available than others. He feels that there is a “saturation of software” that can be used, but it can be difficult to find those that are worthwhile. “As with most things, it’s an issue of time. I like the idea. I just haven’t had time to invest in quality material online,” he said.
However, rather than question the benefit to each individual department or subject, Technology Integration Specialist Elizabeth Perry feels the program can only progress as far as each individual teacher allows.
Perry works with teachers to make the most of the technology available at ASL. In her experience, she has come across teachers that were hesitant to integrate technology, but she feels this is not the case here. “ASL teachers tend to be a curious, inquiring, and passionate bunch,” she said.
Despite the benefits of the program, it creates fears among teachers regarding the proper use of laptops in the classroom. Tally said that when teachers see students doing something they shouldn’t on their laptops, there is the question of whether or not they should intervene. Another concern is whether students or the teachers themselves actually have more responsibility now that the program has been implemented. Though Tally feels students have the responsibility of ensuring their laptop is prepared each day, she also believes there are now higher expectations for teachers, specifically in regards to utilizing Haiku and incorporating the technology. “It’s the fact that laptops are ubiquitous now that encourages teachers to make these changes,” she said.
Tally feels that the approach should be focused on the ethical use of the internet and also feels that certain values should be in place.
Elaborating upon this concept, Xu said, “As a school, we probably want to develop some norms regarding the use of technology and publish these norms.” She believes this would serve as a reminder to everyone what expectations are in place regarding technology use.
However, Bracht believes that despite the positive direction he feels the program has taken this year, the school needs to take “baby steps” towards a more complete integration of the program for the future.