Freshmen await personal laptops


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Michaela Bauman

DCPS plans to provide its students with laptops within the next three years, starting with all third, sixth, and ninth graders this school year. The computers are not expected to be distributed to students until December at the earliest, though DCPS has budgeted $4.3 million for purchase.

Each freshman will have their own device assigned to them and will not be allowed to take it off school property. “Students will check the computers in and out each day from the school, and Wilson teachers and administrators are currently working on developing procedures for this that will help to prevent theft. Reports of theft at Wilson last year were very low, so we don’t anticipate this being a major issue,” said ninth grade assistant principal Steven Miller. 

DCPS sees several advantages to incorporating technology into its classrooms. “Many studies support the idea that having more equitable access to technology can close the academic achievement gap,” freshman world history teacher Aaron Besser said. “The more practice students get using technology academically will help them for the future… [It can also teach students] how to be appropriate and positive citizens in an online world.” 

There are currently no requirements for how often teachers should incorporate the laptops into their lessons. For the beginning, teachers will use their own discretion.

Wilson administration plans on using this school year to explore the best practices for teaching with technology and train the teachers on how to implement these strategies in their classrooms. “I would aim for around a 50/50 split between computer-based learning and non-computer-based learning,” Besser said. 

One of Besser’s main concerns with the computers is that there is no clear backup plan for when a device breaks or is lost/stolen. “It’s frustrating that Wilson, a school that currently has between 500 and 600 freshmen entering the school, would not get any additional support for the 500-600 laptops that will certainly not all work perfectly every day,” Besser said.

Much is still unknown about the devices, including whether students will be able to work on them after school. “This year will be a pilot year for Wilson, and as teachers figure out great ways to use [the computers] to enhance their instruction and student learning, we’ll take those ideas and spread them to all Wilson teachers for the 2020-21 school year,” Miller said.