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District initiative provides students personal computers

Austin+ISD+tech+support+staff+and+volunteers+help+distribute+laptops+to+Akins+students+on+Aug.+29+in+the+library.+The+initiative+provided+every+student+with+a+Chromebook+that+they+will+keep+until+the+end+of+their+high+school+career.
Austin ISD tech support staff and volunteers help distribute laptops to Akins students on Aug. 29 in the library. The initiative provided every student with a Chromebook that they will keep until the end of their high school career.

Austin ISD tech support staff and volunteers help distribute laptops to Akins students on Aug. 29 in the library. The initiative provided every student with a Chromebook that they will keep until the end of their high school career.

Bee Barto

Bee Barto

Austin ISD tech support staff and volunteers help distribute laptops to Akins students on Aug. 29 in the library. The initiative provided every student with a Chromebook that they will keep until the end of their high school career.

Raidy Zanjeel, Staff Writer

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As part of the district’s “Everyone:1” initiative rollout, Akins and four other high schools were provided with personal Chromebooks at the beginning of the school year in August.

Administrators and teachers are hoping that the new laptops will have a transformative effect on the lives of students and improve on their college and career readiness skills. Principal Brandi Hosack said she was proud that the district was able to provide each Akins student with laptops this year.

“When I look out across our campus I’m seeing kids that didn’t normally carry their stuff to school, taking care of this laptop like it’s a baby. And I love that,” she said. “It makes me very happy. Our students are very proud to own this device and to be able to have access to their schoolwork.”

In addition to receiving laptops, students also have the ability access a new learning management system called BLEND that students can use to work on and turn in assignments.

Allen Hubbard, science teacher and campus innovation coach, said that he has seen numerous problems with BLEND such as grades not transferring to the official gradebook and challenges with students learning to use the program. Hubbard said he is hopeful that these technical problems will be solved over time.

“I think that it’s just a learning curve,” he said. “Students have to learn and the teachers have to learn. I think those problems will end up solving themselves.”

Hosack said her job depends on the use of a laptop and that she thinks students should also have access to laptops because they have multiple uses in all kinds of careers.

“Our students are very proud to own this device and to be able to have access to their schoolwork.”

— Brandi Hosack

“This is how life is,” she said. “This is what the job feels like. For us to pretend that you guys don’t need technology to do your jobs as students is crazy.”

Forensics teacher Rebecca Fuller said that she thinks her students are enjoying and benefitting from the use of the laptops. She said that having the assignments be more accessible to the kids at home and at school is really useful for the student.

“I think my kids are benefiting from it,” Fuller said. “They’re just getting used to using the technology [that] they’re going to have to use once they get out into the workforce.”

Senior Abigail Peterson said that she preferred using hard copy assignments because it can be easy to not remember to login into the laptop or BLEND and do their assignments. Peterson said that she thinks that the laptops are a good resource, but she is having a hard time adjusting to the new system.

Senior Lucas Montgomery, however, said he thinks the laptops are a good addition to the learning environment as a helpful tool.

“It’s an extra responsibility that I have to deal with but it’s nice having that extra resource that can help me instead of having to look elsewhere,” Montgomery said

Fuller said that she’s hoping the new technology will get students ready in life for the real world. She said that since a large portion of modern society is turning to technology, learning to use technology at an early age is both an important and excellent opportunity that not every school has.

“I hope the students are able to get just a fill for using the technology,” Fuller said. “So when they go out there they’re used to using a laptop.”

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