Richland and Hanford high school students will head back to classrooms soon, but they’ll have something new this year in their backpacks this year — Google Chromebooks.
Around 4,000 students will receive the new laptops, which Richland High School librarian Rebecca Dartnall said will help make them “21st-century learners.” Some already have checked them out during a Thursday event.
“We needed to give our kids the best tools we could get,” Dartnall said.
Dartnall said the program’s success is all because of the voters, who passed a technology levy in February that let Richland School District meet its goal of a laptop for every student.
The district is offering $30 insurance plans that protect the machine for one year, unless parents choose to use their own insurance. Students from low-income families get a reduced rate.
“All of our students have equal access,” Dartnall said. “Nobody is left out.”
Chromebooks are not new to Richland, so Dartnall said teachers know how to help students be responsible with them.
Each student logs into their laptop to use it, even at home, said Paul Chartrand, Richland High School’s director of technology and innovation.
Logging in connects the laptop to the school district’s network and its content filters, keeping the student from accessing inappropriate content.
Teachers are responsible for training students in the Chromebooks in class, which provides personalized learning, Chartrand said.
For Richland High School sophomore Andrijana Fundak, a Chromebook will make it easier to do school work at home.
“It will be really helpful for language arts class and any class where we need to type anything,” Fundak said. “It’s really inconvenient to have essays due and not be able to write them.”
Fundak’s father, Robert, said he hopes it will be helpful for his daughter, so she can access information at her fingertips.
“When we have classes where we don’t have anything going on, we can take them out and work on stuff from other classes,” Andrijana Fundak said.
The father and daughter do worry about time spent on technology, but they are excited about the opportunity to use them in a classroom.
For Dartnall, it’s all about preparing students for learning in the future.
“This is just another tool to help them do that,” she said.