By Maddie Wood, Senior Staff Writer

Talawanda High School (THS) initiated the 1:1 program for the 2014-2015 school year, making it the first school in Butler County to provide students with personal electronic devices.

The 1:1 program gives all students grades 9-12 their own Chromebook laptop to use during all four years of high school. Students must return the laptops over their summer break for routine maintenance.

The program was introduced to THS as a trial run to test how the students and faculty would react. The district found that students were
responsible with their devices.

“Out of 1,100 devices, only two were reported missing/stolen, and one of them was recovered,” said Holli Morrish, Talawanda’s Director of Communications and
Public Engagement.

All students and parents were required to sign The Student Technology Acceptable Use Policy before they received their devices.

The only charge families have to pay for the Chromebooks is a $40 insurance fee each year the student is in school, but even that doesn’t affect students, as the overall student fees have been lowered accordingly. The laptops are being funded by the Talawanda School District.

“We didn’t receive a grant we applied for through the state,” Morrish said. “But the [school] board believed in the idea that technology is the wave of the future and Talawanda should be on the forefront.”

And Talawanda School District has proven to be a leader of technology. They operate as a Google school district, meaning Google technology is worked into their curriculum.

Before the 1:1 program was implemented, the IT and curriculum departments heavily researched devices to use and determined that Google’s Chromebooks fulfilled all the requirements they had set. Once the devices were selected, the two departments worked to incorporate the Chromebooks into lesson plans.

Brooke Yeager, sophomore at THS, said that the teachers allow students to use the Chromebooks in class to work on online assignments.

“Before the program, I heard a lot of teachers say they would’ve utilized technology more if all the devices in the building weren’t shared,” said Jim Vajda, Talawanda’s Information Technology Coordinator. “Now that every student has a device, it’s much easier for teachers to plan online lessons and work technology
into their classrooms.”

Although the Chromebooks have proved useful in the classroom, they can also serve as a distraction.

“The online work makes things easier,” said THS sophomore Sarah Green, “but the Chromebooks can download games, so it makes focusing in school harder.”

Keeping students’ attention can be an issue in a society with so much technology.

“Teachers have spoken about the issue of engagement, and they believe the Chromebooks have helped them engage students in the classroom,” Morrish said.

Yeager agreed.

“The online experience we gain from using the Chromebooks will help prepare us for college. I think the laptops are a great idea to give students different ways to study for classes,” she said.

Responses to the 1:1 program have been so positive that the Talawanda School District has decided to expand the program to grades K-8 next year. Kindergarten, first and second grade students will receive iPads, while third through eighth graders will receive Chromebooks.

The younger children will only have access to their devices in the classroom, and midway through fifth grade they will be allowed to take their devices home.

The 1:1 program’s successful first year can be attributed to the changing landscape of education. 

“Technology is driving everything in the world,” Morrish said. “The days of writing a paper with a pen and paper are going away. It’s important for Talawanda to stay current.”