DELAVAN — A device to enhance learning in the hands of all Delavan-Darien School District students? It’s about to happen.
On Monday, May 13, the Delavan-Darien School District Board of Education approved a one-to-one electronics device initiative that will put a laptop or tablet computer in the hands of all students in the district shortly after the start of the 2013-14 school year.
Pre-school through first-grade students will have access to Apple iPad Mini tablet computers and laptop computers. Students in second grade through high school will be assigned Chromebooks, a notebook computer that uses Google’s Chrome operating system to power it.
“I am really excited about the possibilities with this for staff to motivate students to learn, including having online research in daily lessons,” said Superintendent Robert Crist, Ed.D. “I envision Delavan-Darien students and staff together achieving more than what is possible than with pencil and paper and our current shared computer labs and resources.”
The devices, Crist said, will be distributed with hopes of helping the district’s students achieve more academically, perform better on standardized tests and be in a better position when it comes to being 21st Century citizen learners.
“Technology has and continues to change rapidly,” Crist said. “We do not want to fall behind on the learning curve. We are investing in the technological tools of today that will help our students become tomorrow’s leaders through improved curriculum and teaching methods that utilize these powerful devices.”
The initial investment, which will include upgrading the district’s wireless Internet infrastructure, has a price tag of about $1 million. The board approved low-interest borrowing not to exceed $750,000 in next year’s budget for the initiative.
Other districts in the area that have or are going to one-to-one technology plans for some or all of their students include Traver Elementary School, Westosha Central High School, the Milton School District, Parkview School District and Edgerton School District.
The shift to one-to-one may make the Delavan-Darien School District the only 4K-12 district in Walworth County to have this level of device accessibility for a majority of its students.
The district’s one-to-one plan involves more than just the distribution of the device, Crist said. Teachers will be trained to use them and asked to develop new lessons that have students of all ages solving real-world problems and becoming real-world learners.
“That’s a big part of what our district mission is,” Crist said. “We all share the goal of making sure our students — as our mission statement says — are prepared to succeed and contribute as 21st Century citizens by providing a real-world education that is engaging, thought-provoking and culturally diverse.”
Staff development on the devices will go beyond technical training to having them understand how to design assignments that are not only empowering and engaging for students, but are also easily sharable with teaching colleagues throughout the district.
Student use of the devices can give them access to authentic research and resources from around the globe; have them become more responsible for what they learn; and provide an outlet for sharing to the world what they’ve learned in Delavan-Darien schools.
In time, most students will likely be allowed to take and use the devices at home following the school day and use them on home or public Internet connections. Even if they’re used outside of the district, the devices will have built-in content filtering that provides users access to only those websites and web-based resources that are available in the school buildings.
Once home, the devices can also become a valuable communications tool between teachers and parents, Crist said. Parents can check in on student projects and progress, and they can correspond with teachers no matter the language through installed translation tools.
“We’re making great progress in many areas in this district, and I’m proud of that,” Crist said. “We’ve redeveloped our reading and curriculum at the elementary level; reinstated Family and Consumer Education at the high school; become a pilot school offering a computer software engineering program; added minutes to our school day for all learners; improved our health curriculum at the middle school level; developed better relationships with our Latino families and much more, too.
“We’ll make needed adjustments along the way, but this initiative is another major step in making our schools great places for great learning to occur. I am confident we’ll see that great learning and a better school environment as a result of it.”