Blue Valley to implement laptop beta testing in schools

To prepare for a possible one-to-one laptop initiative in the 2018- 2019 school year, Blue Valley will give four classrooms in all high schools laptops from late Jan. to March 30.

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Ellen Bruce

Four classrooms at BVNW will receive Google Chromebooks as part of the beta testing conducted by Blue Valley.

Anna Cowden , Online Copyeditor

All five Blue Valley high schools will integrate Google Chromebooks or Apple Macbooks into four teacher’s classrooms starting late January or early February. According to Blue Valley Northwest Principal Amy Murphy, the beta testing is designed to evaluate how the classroom instruction will change if some teachers are given laptops and if the district’s Wi-Fi is able to withstand more activity if the school were to give each student a laptop in the future.

“If we have 1500 kids online all the time, can we support that? We know some of the frustrations we’ve had not being able to get on,” Murphy said. “They really want to make sure they’ve fixed all those issues because nothing would be worse than to put devices into kid’s hands and then be frustrated because the infrastructure doesn’t support it.”

Science teacher Taylor Hogan, Spanish teacher Kari Hillen, Health teacher Molly Haggerty and Math teacher Laura Deffer are the teachers selected to take part in the beta test at BVNW.

While teaching at Shawnee Mission South, BVNW Technology Integration Specialist Nicholas Deffer experienced the Shawnee Mission School District implement a one-to-one Macbook initiative in the 2014- 2015 school year and said the school district was in chaos in the beginning.

“Sometimes there would be kind of times where half your class wouldn’t be able to do anything on their computer while they were at school but they could do stuff at home,” Deffer said. “I know there were a lot of growing pains at the start so teachers definitely had to have a lot of backup plans within the instruction.”

Blue Valley Director of Blended Learning Brad Moser said all students in Aubry Bend Middle School will receive Google Chromebooks. Aubry Bend will serve as the “stress test” designed to evaluate whether the school’s Wi-Fi is able to withstand more activity if the school were to give each student a laptop in the future.

“We wanna do it strategically,” Moser said. “We want to try and take the appropriate steps, instead of ‘boom! All in. Let’s just get the devices and figure out how to use them.’”

Throughout the beta test, Moser said students and teachers will be completing surveys to give the district  information on how the laptops influenced the quality of education.

“After we have the findings, we’ll make the recommendations to the [Board of Education],” Moser said. “The plan of this study is to get some findings so we can take some actions next year. That’s our goal to take those steps next year.”