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One-to-one technology: a growing possibility for local schools

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Sam Lebeck

Sam Lebeck

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School, like every other aspect of life, has gone through an abundance of adaptations and changes through the years to keep up with the newest technology. Chalkboards have changed to white boards and SmartBoards, fountain pens have evolved to mechanical pencils or ball point pens and tiny school buildings have grown to massive secondary schools. One thing that has survived the test of time, however, is paper.

Worksheets, loose leaf and notebooks are in possession of every student, and seeing paper strewn across desks and hallways is a common in modern-day schools. However, this excessive amount of paper may be nearing its final days as the deforestation required to provide this paper is a growing global issue, and supplying entire schools is expensive.

“[We currently pay] a lot for paper,” Principal Martin Grimm said. “As a school, we spend a lot to supply all of the paper.”

One solution elementary schools and secondary schools alike have been experimenting with is one-to-one technology. In the context of education, one-to-one computing refers to schools issuing each student an electronic device such as a laptop or a tablet in order to access the Internet, digital course materials and digital textbooks. This new component of learning has started to make its way into our everyday school life, similarly to how Google Classroom, online textbooks and BlackBoard have in years past.

As discussions about one-to-one technology grow, there are pros and cons to weigh while considering a new age of technology in schools.

“There has been some talk about, in the next two years, trying to get high schools, and eventually secondary schools, one-to-one technology [in the county],” Grimm said. “We’re not currently buying new Chromebooks and things like that because we don’t want to spend all that money just to have new technology a few years later.”

In recent studies at the University of Michigan, one-to-one laptop programs had a significant positive impact on students’ test scores, especially in the subjects of English, math and science. In addition to boosting test scores, the study found that students who learned through laptops or tablets were more eager and engaged in their studies. In addition to higher overall test scores, the ease of using technology for schoolwork is incredibly appealing. Being provided with this technology certainly has its benefits, but it might be impossible to truly rid schools of paper.

Supplying this new program would not be cheap and effective for every student, as not everyone has Internet connection at home, and while laptop use has its benefits, so does the use of a pen and paper. Some experts argue that the access to the Internet distracts students more than it aides them. In studies by Princeton University and UCLA Los Angeles, researchers determined that some students who write out their notes by hand learn and retain more than students who type notes on their laptops and working through problems on paper increases problem solving ability (PBS).

“I personally prefer to work on paper because I normally remember more by writing out my notes. I think that a balanced combination of paper and online programs would benefit students the most,” sophomore Maddy Hughes said.

Local schools, like Chantilly High School, have found success in providing students with laptops. Fairfax County Public Schools officials have announced that the county is embarking on a new journey to enhance learning through FCPSOn, which is a one-to-one digital transformation program created by FCPS. FCPSOn was implemented in 15 schools during the 2016-2017 school year (fcps.edu).

But for now, most Hayfield students will continue to rely on binders full of paper and hardcover textbooks to get their information. However, the future is inevitable, and individual technology may help reduce the ever-growing need for paper across the country sooner than students thought possible.

“I’m not sure how soon that Hayfield will be given the technology we need for one-to-one, but it would be good for students who don’t have their own devices already,” Hughes said. “Paper will never be fully removed from schools, but the addition of better technology would be great.”

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