Editorial: Computers for All

By fhntoday editorial board

The district is currently thinking about purchasing devices such as laptops and tablets for every student in FHSD for the 2016-EditorialComputer2017 school year. The district should buy these devices to be available for students because it can have a very positive impact on their education. For example, teachers would be able to assign homework, reading, and assignments online through mediums such as Schoology, Blackboard, Google Docs and Edmondo more easily. This could also help out students when they are absent from school. They simply need to log into their computers and would be able to receive and work on their assignments online, rather than having to wait until the next day or the next time they’ll be at school to receive all of their make-up work. This would give students the opportunity to catch up on their schoolwork before coming back to school so they don’t fall behind in their classes.

Additionally, this would also allow teachers to notify their students about upcoming deadlines and tests through the devices. While the security and working conditions of the devices will always be a concern, the benefits of implementing such a system would provide far more benefits than harms. These devices can also have apps downloaded onto them to provide students with resources to help them with their work and even have access to textbooks online. This would greatly benefit students because they wouldn’t have to haul their textbooks to and from school every day. As a direct effect of this, FHSD could use current funds used to fix in-school devices on updating the new ones. If these devices were to be distributed, potentially, students from kindergarten through senior high would receive devices of some sort. Students in elementary school don’t need personal laptops or tablets because they are more focused on basic reading and writing skills that wouldn’t require take-home devices. However, this would be immensely beneficial to middle and especially high school students who often have take-home assignments.

These devices would be checked out to students at the beginning of the year and they would be allowed to take them home every day. These devices would then be returned at the end of the school year. In order to keep track of the devices, students would also be required to fill out and sign a form similar to the textbook rental form to ensure the safety  and protection of the devices. Additionally, filters would be placed on the wi-fi and hot spots to reduce any type of distraction for the students from school work. While providing students with devices could result in the loss of note taking, as students take pictures of the board, this would speed up the class routine because teachers wouldn’t have to stop and wait for the class to finish copying down notes. Furthermore, integrating technology doesn’t necessarily mean that paper and pencil will be eliminated from the classrooms. Posters could still be drawn and essays could still be written. Technology would simply increase the efficiency of the student’s learning environment and provide them with more tools to aid their learning process. If the district puts in a proposal to the district board, schools could start testing the impact that these devices would have on students as early as the next school year.

The district should provide this option for students because technology plays a tremendous role in today’s society and people will only become more reliant on it in the years to come. The purpose of the school district is to provide students with a good education and prepare them for the future. Being able to effectively and efficiently use technology will become a skill that all students will need to know for the college and their years beyond. Today, hard copies of documents, records and even many assignments have already become digitalized in numerous places across the world, so technological and digital skills will be crucial to surviving in the 21st century. Students would get first-hand experience from working with these devices. Furthermore, the distribution of these devices would not only be an advantage for students, but teachers as well. Teachers wouldn’t have to worry about reserving the computer labs at schools for their students days or even weeks in advance. They could schedule their usual “lab time” anytime they want without having to consider all the other teachers in the building who would need the lab for their students at the same time.

Of the numerous options of devices available, laptops would prove to be of greater use to most students than tablets. Laptops are less vulnerable to physical damage, and wouldn’t require additional equipment to keep the screen protected. Laptops also come with USB, SD, and HDMI ports allowing easy transport of information between computers. While MacBooks may be pricey, purchasing them would be most beneficial in the long run because Macs will simplify the usage of the devices and are less susceptible to viruses than PC’s. This being said, the teachers and administration would most likely need to receive instruction over the span of the next two years to make sure they understand the functions of the devices so that they are able to use it to their and their students’ advantage. By providing students with their own devices, they will be fully prepared for their future and will have another set of skills to work with in the years to come. Implementing this service would provide students with an immense arsenal of resources and tools to use. It’s time to start integrating technology into students lives to provide them with the best educational opportunities possible.