In the past few weeks, Andover High School has been introducing and preparing students and families with information about the iAndover 1:1 program. This program will be a way for students in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade at the middle schools and at the high school to bring their laptops and personal devices to school, and in certain classes, use them to research information on a project, to type up papers, or to simply do online activities assigned to them in class. As a student who has already participated in this program during its first year, I am curious to see what the newer technology and more experience in the program will do for the learning community in months to come.

Eighth grade students trying out initiative.
Eighth grade students trying out initiative.

Last year, every student in the 8th grade on my team at Doherty Middle School who had prepared to participate in the oncoming program was designated an HP laptop. While I was lucky enough to have an efficiently working machine, many other students had trouble with internet access and with the overall success of their computers. Because of the older operating systems,  the computers were not capable of connecting to the EPSON projectors, so in group projects, documents had to be shared with the teacher, or someone with a Mac had to use their device. While these were only minor inconveniences and many of the faulty computers’ issues were solved within the first few weeks, I think will be helpful to be using faster technology this year in the program.

Teachers and students alike have their own opinions on the program, and while both that I interviewed seemed positive, they had thoughts and concerns on how they would use the technology. Ms. Mitchell, of 9th grade Composition and English, believes her use of the technology “will vary based on class and unit.” She wants to use the computers in the composition classes because “composition does a lot more writing on a daily basis.” Ms. Mitchell explained, “I like the idea of you guys having a computer or device when you need them” but her class is, “not a classroom where everyone is always on a device,” and believes it should be an, “aid, but shouldn’t be replacing tried and true methods,” for she will continue to have students do vocabulary assignments on paper. Ninth grade student, Joyce Shen, feels having her computer will not be a major disturbance at school because, as she told me, “I already use my laptop at school. It’s easier for me because I think typing is easier than writing, but I’ll have to carry it around all day and that would risk my laptop’s safety.”

I believe with the bring-your-own device policy for this year, the laptops will have less trouble starting up quickly in the beginning of class, and will have longer battery life. Waiting for the devices to start up last year did not take an unreasonably long time, but it was inefficient to turn off computers at the end of every class. Closing the laptops, but leaving them on was helpful, but also wasted battery. Many newer laptops can start up in around 30 seconds, and drain charge at a lower rate. While it will still be the student’s responsibility to charge their device every night, battery power should last longer and the computers will not need to be plugged in during class.

I have a positive outlook on the success of the improved program, and while some of the previous computers had functionality issues, the use of these laptops in school made many parts of class easier and more efficient than having to reserve the Macs or the computer lab. I am hopeful that this program will be a success and that freshmen in years to come will also find the 1:1 helpful in their learning environment.

By Audrey Gallacher