Learning Devices for All Students

DCSS Offers "One-to-One" Technology with Funding from ESPLOST, Federal Funds and Grants
Posted on 07/16/2020

Goal is to have a device for every student in August, 2020.

The Douglas County School System has been moving toward the goal of “One-to-One” technology for the last few years. After implementing remote learning and teaching in March of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school system accelerated its timeline of providing an electronic learning device for every student.

“While we have added Chromebooks and laptops each year to increase availability of electronic devices for our students, we have now expedited our timeline of having an electronic device issued to every student. The current pandemic has taught us that we must be ready with technology so that we can continue teaching and learning under any circumstances,” said Superintendent Trent North.

“In addition, we have long recognized that students must have extensive access to technology during their K-12 years in order to be prepared for college and the workforce,” Superintendent North continued. “I applaud our Board of Education for approving the purchase of 7,294 Chromebooks at the May 18, 2020, Board of Education meeting. I am grateful that ESPLOST funds allowed us to make this necessary purchase.”

When the school system moved to digital learning on March 16, students used personal electronic devices at home to keep up with instruction. Schools checked out around 2,000 Chromebooks to students who did not have access to an electronic device at home. Students without internet access were able to pick up paper packets for their lessons.

Issuing Chromebooks and laptops to students in grades K-12 will be new for the Douglas County School System. Until now, students shared Chromebooks at school. Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, students will be issued a Chromebook or laptop for individual educational use at school. Students in grades 3-12 may take their devices home for assignments. Students in younger grades may take their devices home if the school system moves to Digital Learning Days in response to COVID-19. As with a textbook, students will have the responsibility of returning the device at the end of the school year.

By providing every student with a device to use at school and at home, the One-to-One initiative will provide easy access to educational programs used by the school system and will ensure greater equity for all students in the area of digital learning. By having a specific device for their own personal use, students will be less likely to share transmittable diseases, including COVID-19.

In addition to providing a learning device for every student, the school system, through a partnership with Google, will provide rolling hotspots as a part of Google’s Rolling Study Halls program. Thirty Douglas County School System buses are now wired with Wi-Fi to address the critical need for reliable internet access for students without Wi-Fi at home. As a pilot this summer, a Wi-Fi bus is parked in the parking lot of the five high schools in Douglas County. From the parking lot, students and family members may access the internet for academic endeavors, college applications and job searches. It is anticipated that additional hot spot locations will be added.

To further enhance the digital learning experience for teachers and students, the Douglas County School System has moved all of its online learning to the Google platform. This move allows easy access to instructional software, and teachers and students are able to collaborate by easily sharing documents. The school system also moved from Microsoft to Gmail for its email platform, so email is now integrated with all of the other Google applications.

“Students, teachers and parents became adept at Google Classroom and Google Meet during our nine weeks of digital learning this spring,” said Todd Hindmon, executive director of technology for the school system. “Teachers have come to appreciate all that Google has to offer for digital learning, and we believe that by adding Gmail for students and employees, we will have a more seamless learning experience for everyone.”

Technology purchases may be funded through ESPLOST, the penny sales tax that has been collected since 1997 and must be approved by voters every five years. The citizens of Douglas County voted to renew ESPLOST on June 9, 2020.

 

 


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