As the one-to-one learning initiative moves closer to being implemented in the St. Clair R-XIII School District, administrators have put together a first draft of a Google Chromebook policy manual that students will have to follow while they use the portable computers.
Earlier this year, the board of education approved spending almost $500,000 to purchase Chromebooks for junior and senior high school students as well as faculty and administrators to use in the education initiative. Training is under way now.
Plans are to start using the computers in January as part of a blended learning curriculum with traditional textbooks when the second semester begins.
Every student will have the opportunity to receive a Chromebook and will be able to take it with him or her at the end of the school day.
Superintendent Mike Murphy told board of education members during their September meeting that the policy remains in draft form and is a compilation of what several other school districts have implemented.
“We’ve blended together to what we think fits us,” he said. “We’re beginning to generate discussion associated with it. We’re trying to gain advice and expertise from districts already doing this for a while instead of creating a policy on our own.”
Much of Murphy’s discussion centered on insurance for the computers.
“St. Clair School District requires that insurance be purchased prior to the deployment of the Chromebook to your child,” the policy draft currently reads. “The insurance cost is $20 annually for each Chromebook.”
The policy then goes on to say that each claim covered by insurance will be assessed an incremental deductible within the current school year.
The first claim/deductible will be up to $50 with the second claim/deductible increasing to $100.
The third claim/deductible will be $280, which is about the cost of the Chromebook.
Finally, the draft policy states that “a Chromebook or any of its accessories that are lost or intentionally damaged is the responsibility of the student and parent involved in the loss of property. The user will not be given another device or accessory to use until the replacement cost of the lost/damaged device or accessory is paid to the school.”
Murphy said through the research he has conducted, most school districts require some type of insurance on the portable devices.
He also said if parents cannot afford or do not want to pay for the insurance, a check-in, check-out policy may be used. Under that scenario, if the student has no insurance, he or she may be able to use a Chromebook during the school day, but will not be able to take it home with him or her.
“This would be an individual choice,” Murphy said about the no insurance option.
“But the general message is we want parents to participate in the insurance program.”
Thefts will be handled by local law enforcement, he said.
Other parts of the policy manual discuss care, useage, file management, software, protection of it, repairs and technical support.
“I’m asking you to review the policy,” Murphy told board members, adding he would like the policy approved during either the October or November meeting.
Murphy also gave a few details of the policy and the learning initiative in general when he conducted a key communicators meeting in the SCHS cafeteria late last month.
Teachers and administrators already are using new domain-based emails associated with the one-to-one learning initiative. A couple of teachers also are experimenting with the technology in their classrooms.
Through the use of the digital devices, junior and senior high school students will have access to information available at numerous and almost limitless sources besides textbooks through the World Wide Web.
The cost to initiate the program — $431,000 — was approved in June by the board of education as part of the 2013-14 budget. The money is being used to purchase 1,400 Google Chromebooks at a cost of about $300 per unit.
Google Apps for Education, a cloud-based system, will be used. Murphy said the program is more than a search engine. He also said the program has no cost to use.
As part of the initiative, teachers and students will use email more frequently to communicate and assist with the learning process. Since the program is Google based, gmail accounts will be used.
The new R-XIII domain is “stcmo.org.” The old domain was “stclair.k12.mo.us.”
Murphy said district employees now are using email addresses that use the first initial of their first name followed by their last name. An example is email@example.com for Murphy.
When students receive their email addresses, they will be slightly different. They will first feature their graduating year followed by the first-name initial, full last name and the domain. Board of education members also have a similar gmail address.
As training continues, students and teachers will experiment with the Chromebooks starting in January. Murphy is hoping for full implementation at the start of the 2014-15 academic year.
The one-to-one digital learning will be implemented in four phases, with the first being informational that will continue through October. From that point through the end of the first semester, lesson design and detailed planning for the second semester will continue. All teachers will be trained.
In January after the Christmas break, the district’s older students will receive and use their devices during the second semester as part of the third phase. At the end of the upcoming school year, the devices will be collected and the program tweaked however necessary.
The full implementation then is planned for the following fall as the fourth phase.