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District provides Chromebooks to students and staff

posted Jan 25, 2018, 9:08 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Jan 25, 2018, 5:05 PM ]

August 2017 Freshman Academy Chromebook Rollout Video

Bartlesville Public Schools has been working to improve its instructional technology, drawing upon bond issue funding approved by voters as well as community donations and federal grants.

Here's an overview of the progress made since 2016 on the district's Student Computing Initiative, which is transforming the learning environment.

Chromebooks for Students

In August 2016, district voters approved a bond issue that included funding to gradually deploy Chromebooks to all secondary students over four years.

Student Computing Initiative Timeline
The district's long-term plan for student computing devices

Teachers Wiring Chromebook Carts
In fall 2016 the district purchased a dozen Chromebook charging carts with a total of almost 400 Chromebooks. The photo shows several of the high school teachers who volunteered to help wire up the carts. The carts have been used since then in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grade English classrooms.

In 2016-2017, 29 teachers set up 52 online courses at the high school in its new Canvas Learning Management System. That year 1,222 students completed 2,321 assignments in Canvas and participated in 946 electronic discussions.

This heavy adoption, before any take-home devices were deployed, was promoted by an online Kung Fu Canvas course of instructional videos and assignments, given inside of Canvas, to high school teachers. Teachers received instructional equipment incentives they could use in their teaching as they completed each of six phases of training, earning different Kung Fu Canvas "Belts". 

Granger Meador
By May 2017, 88 teachers at the high school had earned three belts, completing the first half of that training, and they have the opportunity to earn the remaining belts this academic year. By the end of the first semester of 2017-2018, 34 teachers had completed the entire training course, earning all six belts. Granger Meador, who leads the program as the district's Executive Director of Technology and Communication, expects many more will continue working through the training this year, spurred on by equipment incentives, the opportunity to make up an inclement weather day via in-service points, and their desire to harness the new technology to improve their students' learning.

Granger Meador issues a Chromebook to a freshman
Granger Meador issues a Chromebook to a Freshman Academy student

This school year, 444 Chromebooks have been issued to freshmen for use both at school and at home. Each Chromebook has its own always-on case with a stitched Bruins logo. 

Freshman Academy Chromebooks

The take-home Chromebooks in the Freshman Academy and the Chromebook carts in the 10-12 English classrooms have led 69 teachers to offer 118 courses in Canvas to 1,677 students at the high school. Those students submitted almost 3,000 digital assignments in the first semester. 

The shift to digital assignments has already dramatically changed college instruction and is making its way into the nation's secondary schools. A 2016 meta-analysis of 65 journal articles and 31 doctoral dissertations concluded that providing each student with a computing device led to:
  • significantly increased academic achievement in science, writing, math, and English
  • more student-centered, individualized, and project-based instruction
  • enhanced engagement and enthusiasm among students
  • improved teacher-student and parent-school relationships
Realizing that a $250 device with charger and carrying case that travels to and from school each day would carry risks of damage and loss, over 400 of the Freshman Academy students' parents opted to purchase a $25 annual insurance plan which provides full damage/loss coverage for a first incident and half coverage for a second one during the year. The district runs the insurance program and uses the premiums to operate its new Student Technology Support Team (STST) classes at the high school.

Wendy Meador
Wendy Meador, a certified high school teacher who had previous experience in technical support and PC repair before she began teaching in Bartlesville in 2007, leads the STST. The class had six student technicians in its first semester and seven for its second semester. These students offered troubleshooting, maintenance, and repair for all high school Chromebooks, with about 1/4 of the freshmen using their services during the first semester.

The student technicians have found that rebooting or reinstalling the Chrome operating system are the most common solutions for a mind-bogglingly diverse mix of user issues. Some Chromebooks suffer hardware failures such as power issues or cracked screens, like the one that STST member Andrea Hernandez prepares to replace in the photo below. The students created a video highlighting common issues.

Students' Chromebook Safety Video

Andrea Hernandez with cracked Chromebook screen
Ms. Meador reported that 7% of insured students had damage/loss incidents in the first semester, including 19 cracked screens. While Dell did not consider the glued-in screens replaceable parts, Ms. Meador used the insurance premiums to purchase replacements, and her students successfully repaired the devices. In the photo, STST members Olive Foust, Artturi DeBlieck, and Logan Gray are shown replacing Chromebook screens.

Olivia Foust, Artturi DeBlieck, and Logan Gray work on Chromebooks
Student Technology Support Team students repairing Chromebooks

Ms. Meador and her students also support technology throughout the school and assist with deployment and support of staff Chromebooks throughout the district. Current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors may apply to join the program next year, when the STST will be supporting over 1,600 take-home student Chromebooks at the high school, over 500 classroom-based student Chromebooks moving from the high school to the two middle schools, and about 500 Chromebooks used by staff members across the district.

Andrea Hernandez repairs a Chromebook
The interior of a Chromebook being serviced by the STST

Chromebooks for Staff 

It was important for high school staff to have their own Chromebooks in 2016-2017 to help them train and prepare for using them in their instruction. Staff Chromebooks have also made meetings more productive and reduced wasted paper, promoting collaborative work on documents, presentations, and data analysis.

In early January 2018, a federal grant allowed the district to purchase 340 Chromebooks for elementary and middle school staff members. To have them ready for the mid-January in-service day, in only four days the Student Technology Support Team, with the help of the district's Technology Services department one morning plus continuing help from high school librarian Kim Lashbrook and library aides, prepared the devices and outfitted them with cases, chargers, cleaning cloths, stickers, and instructional manuals.

The high school support team helped deploy 340 Chromebooks for elementary and middle school staff members
  The Student Technology Support Team, with the help of the district's Technology Services department one morning plus continuing help from high school librarian Kim Lashbrook and library aides, prepared 340 Chromebooks in early January for the district's elementary and middle school teachers

To help support this deployment, on January 15, 2018 district teachers provided over 21 different 50-minute technology training sessions to their fellow secondary school teachers. The topics included creating video lessons with a Chromebook, creating digital assignments and quizzes in Canvas, tips and tricks for using Chromebooks, and much more.

The Chromebooks were kept a surprise for the elementary teachers. They received on-site training on their new Chromebooks, and were already putting them to use at staff meetings later that week.

Teachers meeting using Chromebooks
Elementary school teachers using their new Chromebooks at a staff meeting

The January inservice day also provided additional teacher training on the STEM Launch computer science modules which are being piloted in all kindergarten through fifth grade classes. Those modules make use of equipment and iPad carts funded by earlier grants from the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation and ConocoPhillips. Fundraising continues on a $100,000 goal of the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation to support another set of iPad carts with Biomedical and Engineering modules for 2018-2019.

Elementary STEM iPads
All kindergarten through fifth grade classes are using iPads in the new STEM Launch computer science modules

After the second wave of iPad carts is put to use in the elementary schools in 2018-2019, the district expects to be adding a mix of classroom-based Chromebooks and iPads at each elementary school.

District Support

Lori Patterson
At a recent school board meeting, Mr. Meador highlighted the efforts of Technology Services Director Lori Patterson and the eight technicians she supervises. They keep all of the technology in the district running, including the network infrastructure and services that make it possible for thousands of students and staff to use their Chromebooks, iPads, desktop computers, and printers. 

Ms. Patterson and the technicians support all sorts of technology beyond the obvious computing devices and their wireless and wired networks, including electronic whiteboards, telephones, clocks, intercoms, and security cameras. Needless to say, their expertise is greatly appreciated.

With the continued elimination of state programs for professional development due to inadequate funding, Bartlesville teachers have had to help each other in an era of constant technological change. Technology Services is assisted by teachers and other staff members at each school site who help troubleshoot and address problems, including teachers at the larger middle schools and high school who receive extra duty stipends as site technology assistants. 

Laura Salzyn
Each school also has a teacher who receives an extra duty stipend to provide site-based technology training. Their efforts are coordinated by Laura Salzyn, one of the Teacher Specialists at the district's Education Service Center. Laura also assists with curricular assessments throughout the district.

Angie Linthacum
Angie Linthacum is the district's other Teacher Specialist. She assists with the STEM Launch program and also coordinates the district's English Language Development program which supports students coming from homes where languages other than English are used.

We are working together to modernize our schools

Even in this era of inadequate state budgets, the support of our community and our talented students and staff are allowing us to modernize our schools. The district has made tremendous progress in its use of instructional technology since the successful 2016 bond issue. Continued support from district voters in future bond issues will be critical to maintaining the secondary Chromebook program and expanding the use of computing devices in the elementary schools. This is a long-term investment that promises great rewards in the years to come.