(The Hour, 10/13/17)
WILTON — Anderson Campbell worked on his Chromebook inside the library at Middlebrook School, as did his classmates beside him.
They were learning how to use Google Docs, Sheets and other apps in their new digital citizenship class for sixth-graders. The class is meant to teach responsible and safe use of the Chromebooks the school loans to them, now that they can bring them home. This is a change they’ve come to welcome and embrace, he said.
“It helps you to do some things, such as homework,” Campbell added.
The new course and rollout of Chromebooks at Middlebrook are part of the districtwide “Ready Access” plan, which launched at the start of the 2017-18 school year. Under this tech initiative, high school students bring their own devices to school, middle-schoolers are loaned Chromebooks and elementary school students have access to Chromebooks and iPads.
This 1:1 model is designed to integrate technology and 21st century skills in a more seamless and personalized way, said Fran Kompar, the district’s director of instructional technology and digital learning.
“Now with the access, if in fact there is an opportunity in the classroom that technology can be used, it’s available to be used,” she said. “I think the power of technology is that it honestly supports our vision and mission for the district.”
To ensure a smooth transition, the initiative has been implemented in a manner that allows staff and students to understand what equipment is coming in, when it’s coming in and how to use it, Kompar said.
Each grade level completed a digital citizenship boot camp before the initiative rolled out — discussing privacy issues, digital footprints, and safe and responsible use of devices. Students in transition years, such as fifth grade or eighth grade, also learn different skills so they do not arrive to a new building with an interruption in their instruction. Similarly, staff receive ongoing training on professional development days.