Wilmington continues to work towards a , but the district is taking its time in arriving at a plan for implementation.
During Wednesday’s School Committee meeting, Technology Coordinator Neal Ellis updated board members on the district’s pilot programs that could ultimately shape how a possible permanent program will look.
Four carts containing 25 netbooks each have been purchased for , which was recently made wireless thanks to funds that were approved during this year’s Annual Town Meeting.
Middle School teachers will soon meet to decide how to deploy the laptops. In addition, a high school pilot program is being developed that will be a Bring Your Own Device method.
Superintendent of Schools Joanne Benton said the district is not going to rush into any decision on the program, but will rather test methods that could work best. Benton also added that the current preference is netbooks rather than iPads.
“It will be interesting to see down the road what people will be using. For some the choice if the iPad,” said Benton. “We’re not interested in doing that at this point. I think I would rather be cautious and take our time to do it right rather than have 1,000 netbooks and not be using them properly.”
At the high school, there will be some second semester classes advertised as Bring Your Own Device learning. Students can enroll in the courses if they meet the specifications of having the right type of device.
School Committee member Robert Hayes said the district is correct in taking a cautious approach to the program.
“Wilmington is ready to take these first few steps towards a 1:1 learning environment. I think the district went about it the right way to get here. We’ve been patient,” said Hayes. “I believe that parents are generally supportive of 1:1 learning for their children, though they certainly have questions I’m sure … We’re taking a careful, thoughtful approach rather than diving in district-wide.”
Hayes said he hopes the district will examine possibles methods of funding, such as grants. He also said that Bring Your Own Device may be the avenue that makes the most sense.
“I’m very excited,” said Hayes. “It’s going to change the way teachers teach and students learn. We need the support of students, teachers, and particularly parents if a 1:1 learning environment is going to be successful in Wilmington.”
School Committee Chairman Peggy Kane said she is glad to see school officials slowing down slightly with the plans rather than rushing into a 1:1 plan.
“It’s extremely important that the teachers come up with ways to use them before we hand them over and say ‘Here they are,’” said Kane. “I think this is a great time for teacher collaboration.”
Students who are interested in participating in 1:1 learning but can’t afford a device can apply to receive a district owned device.
Ellis said the high school pilot program will allow teachers to slowly work the technology into their lessons plans rather than moving to netbooks immediately.