District moves into second phase of Chromebook initiative

Junior Noah Salmon using his new Chromebook, provided by the Bexley Education Foundation, in class. (Photo by Margaret Zirwas)

The district has moved into the next phase of the one-to-one technology initiative after finishing the distribution of the Chromebooks to students across the district. 

Director of Technology Brad Pettit said the second phase involves making changes to the schools’ WiFi systems and content filters, as well as helping teachers integrate the technology into their classrooms.

The first phase of the one-to-one initiative began on Monday, Nov. 9, as students in first through 12th grade were given laptops by the school, Pettit added.

Pettit said that the increased number of devices on the school’s WiFi has led to some crowding, and it may soon become harder for students to bring their own devices, as the school is planning to remove the “Bexley Student” network that is available to all students.

“We can make our network operate better by reducing the total number of networks on our WiFi,” he explained. “At some point, we will remove the student-specific WiFi network, but a ‘Bexley Guest’ network will remain available for anyone to use.”

Principal Kristin Robbins said while she believes that students with personal devices will still be able to use them, she advises students to start using their Chromebooks, as a school-owned device will be required for use on some future assessments.

“It will be important that students become familiar with and integrate the use of Chromebooks into their daily classroom and homework,” Robbins said.

The distribution of devices in the high school was successful, she said, thanks to staff involvement.

“I think it went as well as expected,” Robbins said. “We were very fortunate to have Mr. Tomich assist with this, and he was great at communicating both with students and study hall teachers.”

Pettit explained that this project has been especially critical during the last two school years with the switch to remote learning, and that it is important that every student has a Chromebook to use in class. 

“As a whole, classroom experience and our ability to support our technology depends on students using our Chromebooks,” Pettit said. “Teachers can better prepare tools and resources for instruction when knowing that every student is using the same device with the same features.”

Science teacher Scott Logsdon said he is very excited about the Chromebooks and has already found a use for them in his classes.

“I think this will be great for the graphic piece of class,” Logsdon said. “Being able to go into GoogleSheets and create our charts, tables and graphs while we’re in labs will be a big help.” 

Freshman Stanford Brandt is also very happy with the initiative and said that he had previously been struggling with his old computer. 

“It’s a lot better than the device I was using before,” Brandt said. “It’s easier to do work on and easier to carry around.”

However, not all students have been happy with the Chromebooks. Sophomore Emma Taylor said she has been underwhelmed with her device. 

“A lot of websites are blocked on it, so it’s a lot harder to do research for school,” Taylor said. 

Pettit explained that the school is hoping to change the current content filters so that this issue can be avoided.

“Once we have all students using school devices, we can start making adjustments to our content filters that will be less restricted to more high school appropriate content,” Pettit said. 

The district hopes to create three separate content filters, Pettit added, with one for the elementary schools, one for the middle school and one for the high school. 

He said he is excited about the initiative’s progress and he thinks it is incredibly important that every student has access to reliable technology. 

“I am proud of all of the efforts from our tech support team, school administration and Bexley Education Foundation to make this happen,” Pettit said.