New student laptops slated to arrive next year

Math+teacher+Ms.+Amanda+Sproviero+and+other+faculty+members+are+piloting+the+HP+EliteBook+laptops+this+year+to+prepare+for+the+one-to-one+student+laptop+initiative+set+to+occur+next+fall.+

Photo Credit: Catherine Bennett

Math teacher Ms. Amanda Sproviero and other faculty members are piloting the HP EliteBook laptops this year to prepare for the one-to-one student laptop initiative set to occur next fall.

by Catherine Bennett and Kate Casey

Glen Rock’s Board of Education is planning to distribute individual laptops to all high school students for the upcoming school year.

As of now, it is still a plan, but will be confirmed at a Board of Education meeting soon. Many people agree that this technological step will improve student’s education, but it comes with negative effects as well.

Mr. John Arlotta, school principal, said, “The district put together what’s known as a technology plan, and, within that plan, is the plan to issue what’s known as a one-to-one laptop initiative for students, starting next year. It’s not a definite, because obviously it costs a lot of money, but it is the plan.”

Over the past few years, the Board of Education has been forming a technology plan. The district intended to first distribute HP laptops to the teachers in fall 2015. Teachers would pilot the laptops for a year to prepare for when students would be issued their own laptops in fall 2016. The current plan calls for a one-to-one laptop initiative, in which each student will receive his or her own laptop computer.

The district is planning to lease about 750 laptops for the 2016-2017 school year. The school will have them for a few years, then return them and get new updated ones after the lease is up. The laptops will be the same model the teachers were issued this year. They are HP laptops, which can double up as a tablet with touch screen abilities. Every student will have a laptop for the duration of the school year, then will return them over the summer. This will give the technology department time to repair and update the computers.

The administration currently has the authority to look at students’ history on the network computers, and, with the student’s laptops, this rule will still be in effect. When the laptops are distributed, each student will have to sign an acceptable use policy. If a student is found engaging in inappropriate activities, consequences will be given to fit the severity of the action.

As of now, the middle school and high school share the same filter for blocked websites and games. Before students are issued the new laptops this fall, it is a district goal to separate the high school filter from the middle school one and lighten it to meet the needs of the high school students. Certain websites, such as YouTube, will not be blocked next year, due to the advantages it will have for high school students’ learning.

“It will still run through our filter,” Arlotta said. “We are looking at our filter right now to see about some things that we might be able to do differently.”

Ms. Amanda Sproviero, math teacher, is hopeful that the laptops will offer new educational opportunities for her class.

“I think it’ll be beneficial for the students because you’ll have everything in one place,” she said.

Everything’s easier to type than to write and it’s more accessible at home if you save it to something such as Google Drive.”

— Tess Rooney ('19)

With the computers, students can have all their homework, notes, and other studying materials all on one computer. The struggles of carrying around textbooks and handwriting assignments will not be as much of an issue anymore.

Ms. Jill Astoreca, English teacher, said, “It will decrease the amount of papers that we Xerox and it’ll conserve paper, which is better for the environment.” The school faculty has discussed working online with programs such as Google apps.

For Tess Rooney, a freshman, computers and schoolwork have always been linked.

“Everything’s easier to type than to write and it’s more accessible at home if you save it to something such as Google Drive,” Rooney said.

Online programs such as the Google Apps, Geometer’s Sketchpad, Desmos, Socrative, Edmodo, and Kahoot enhance learning by presenting information in a more interesting way and by keeping students alert in class.

Most importantly the laptops will help students prepare for the future. “We are trying to do a lot of things that really mimic what you’re going to see at the collegiate level,” Arlotta said.

At most colleges, every student is expected to have their own computer to use at home. Having them in high school prepares students for the more technological learning done in college.

Although there are many benefits to the laptops, many people can argue that the negatives outweigh the positives. “I have some reservations about it,” Astoreca said. “Some things sound great, and others are a little concerning and troubling to me.”

According to some studies, some students work better using pen and paper, reading out of textbooks, and taking notes by hand. People who may not be as technologically advanced as others prefer to have at least some classes that don’t revolve around the laptops.

Lewis Friedenthal (‘19) said, “We’re getting rid of traditional education altogether, because that’s what it’s leaning towards, and you know it’d be nice to keep some stuff, now I feel like we have a bit of a balance, but I feel like we’ll lose it.”

Another issue that may come into play when every student in class has their own laptop, will be the distraction they can cause. Teachers cite students clicking to random websites during class and missing out on instruction could become a major problem. If teachers are constantly monitoring their use, though, they become more like enforcers and less like instructors.

Everyone’s going to have these laptops, and it’s going to turn into a technological society.”

— Lewis Friedenthal ('19)

Teachers can use a program that shows all of the students’ screens on their own computer, so they can see what the students are doing.

Yet the biggest downside to the laptops is the amount they cost. Glen Rock taxes are predicted to go up about 4 to 5 hundred thousand dollars. This number does not include the updates that need to be done on the school Wi-Fi and other renovations that need to be made to support all the new technology. Many students already have their own laptops and don’t think it is worth the massive tax increase to get a computer that is most likely not as good one they already have.

“Overall I think it’s going to affect the school and we’re going to become so tech savvy,” Friedenthal said. “Everyone’s going to have these laptops, and it’s going to turn into a technological society.”