MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 17, 2013

Fort Gibson preps for tech shift

School to launch 1:1 digital device initiative in fall

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— FORT GIBSON — Parents can expect incremental changes as Fort Gibson Schools implements its 1:1 digital device initiative next fall.

The district is beginning a program in which each student — from pre-kindergarten through senior — has access to a computer. Students could either use their personal devices, such as laptops or tablets, or check out a laptop from the school for an insurance fee. The program is part of the district’s effort to ease out use of textbooks over the next few years.

“Things are not going to look a lot different next year,” Fort Gibson Superintendent Derald Glover said Thursday during a public meeting about its 1:1 policy. “Kids are still going to learn the same way. They still are going to have textbooks, but books are going to gradually go by the wayside.”

Glover said the district is buying refurbished Dell laptop computers for kids who do not bring their personal digital devices. Students using school laptops pay a non-refundable technology insurance fee.

Students in pre-kindergarten through second-grade will have devices at school and not check them out, so no fee is charged.

Fees for third- through fifth-grades are $25 per student per year.

Yearly fees for sixth-grade and above are $50 for the first student in a household, plus $25 for each additional student. If the family is on free/reduced lunch status, fees are $25 per student per year.

Glover said parents could be able to pay out the fees through the year.

The district will not insure students’ personal devices, he said. Information about insuring personal devices through the Worth Ave. Group was handed out during the meeting.

Sharon Nichols, who will have children in the 10th and 12th grades this fall, said the family does not want to buy a device “they would use for a year.”

Glover suggested going ahead and paying $50 for the insurance and checking out a school laptop.

“We have a laptop, but it’s 3 years old,” Nichols said.

Glover said the older device could be useable.

“We would want to know what parents would like by the end of school so we can go order them,” Glover said. “We want kids to use what they are comfortable with.”

Thursday is the last day of school in Fort Gibson.

After the meeting, Nichols said she hasn’t decided whether to have her kids bring their personal devices or use the school laptops. She said she was concerned with where they would be kept when students have an after-school activity.

Fort Gibson Public Schools Technical Director Jason Wicks said the district is working on ways to keep the devices secure during activities. He said they could be locked in a room or locked in school buses.

One parent said she was concerned about how inappropriate data would be filtered on student devices.

Wicks said the district will use the learning management system My Big Campus, which allows teachers to build their assignments and students to access assignments. He said the My Big Campus sites are always monitored for inappropriate material or pictures.

Glover said the laptops will not yet have digital versions of the school textbooks.

“Part of the reason we’re doing this is that our teachers know what they want to teach without following the book,” Wicks said.

Glover said the first year of the policy “is going to take a lot of work.”

“But I can tell you, it would be criminal not to be moving in this direction,” he said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.