District distributing iPads, Chromebooks to students

Director of English Resource Center Neal Tomich hands freshman Harper Phillips a Chromebook from the 1:1 Chromebook initiative funded by the BEF. (Photo by Zach Trabitz)

Chromebooks and iPads have been distributed to students in the district as part of the 1:1 student device program sponsored by the Bexley Education Foundation.

Technology Director Brad Pettit explained that grades K-1 received iPads while grades 2-12 were granted Chromebooks.

BEF Executive Director Pam Glasgow said the purchase of the personal devices stemmed from the district’s technology plan and that the district intended to phase in the devices over a three year period, but COVID-19  prompted the BEF to prioritize the program. The BEF awarded a $250,000 impact grant to the district for 2,300 devices, she explained, and the plan allowed the cost to be spread over three years. Glasgow said $750,000 will be needed to cover the rest of the costs and the BEF intends on raising the remaining amount. 

Principal Kristin Robbins explained that the 1:1 student device program was initiated in June, and the devices came three weeks early, as the projected date for arrival was late November. She said the last main goal for the program was the distribution of the remaining devices to the high school.

Technology Integration Coach Toby Fischer said the goal is that more personalized learning will be able to happen when students are all on an equal level in terms of technology. He added that there will be resources, such as Powerpoints, available for teachers and students to consult for guidance on all the Chromebook’s different functions, including touch screens and apps that allow for direct interaction with PDFs. 

The distribution process was also handled well, he said. 

“It’s going better than I could’ve ever imagined,” Fischer said. “In a non-Covid world, this is not how we would roll it out, but it’s not far from it either.”

Robbins said students could continue to use their own personal devices but that the Chromebooks will be necessary for all students to have.

“There will be specific times [and] classes where a student will need to have the district issued device,” Robbins said. “This may be because of certain programming that will be pushed out through the technology department or specific applications a teacher or department might want you to be able to access.”

English teacher Michelle Rogers said she is excited for the new program. She said personal devices are necessary this year due to online learning and that she will now be able to plan class around the devices.

“I think we’ll use [the Chromebooks] regularly, almost daily, if not for the whole period,” Rogers said. “It’ll make everything quicker and more efficient in the classroom. If a student hasn’t turned in a draft, they can do it at school. They don’t have to wait until they get home.”

Junior Miriam Solove said she likes the new Chromebooks. 

“I like how easy it was to set up,” Solove said. “I think I will use it for most school things.”

Pettit explained the hope for the faculty is that the Chromebooks will serve as an extension of the classroom by making it so all students can work on school easily from home. 

“What’s most important isn’t the Chromebook itself, it is the opportunity and avenues that opens up when you can rely on it as a resource,” Pettit said.