1:1 Tech Initiative for Bremen Public Schools

BREMEN – Next fall, Bremen High School plans to provide every student with a portable, wireless computing device as part of the 1:1 Technology Initiative.
“Each student will have their own device assigned to them, for use at school and at home,” explained Steve Gall, technology integration coach.
Currently Bremen High School has about 300 computers dedicated for student use in several labs, which must be reserved in advance by individual teachers.
“Under the 1:1 initiative, instruction and learning will not be restricted by computer lab availability,” said Rebecca Shambarger, technology director.
BHS Principal Bruce Jennings noted that the 1:1 classrooms will provide students and teachers constant and immediate access to the world.
“Capitalizing on a student’s intriguing question or on an unexpected discussion is much harder when a teacher has to schedule computer time. However, in a 1:1 computing classroom, a topic arises and the teacher and students can immediately go online – investigating, questioning and extending the conversation with tools that might not be otherwise available to them,” Jennings said.
The school is currently on a six-year cycle for adoption of new curriculum. As each subject area comes up for adoption over the next six years, school administrators will have to decide whether to continue with paper textbooks or make the move to digital curriculum. Having the 1:1 learning environment in place will prepare BHS for a digital future.
“Curriculum is going online and global,” Jennings said.
Bremen will be joining the ranks of several other area schools that have made the jump to 1:1 schools,such as Plymouth, Rochester and Culver Community.
“Students must learn 21st Century skills, such as how to be responsible leaders in online communities, and how to construct effective digital portfolios,” Jennings said.
“Computing devices need to be used by students to develop workplace skills such as problem-solving, effective communication, and becoming better independent learners.”
The first step of the 1:1 Technology Initiative – installing a wireless infrastructure – was completed over the summer.
“We have 37 wireless access points throughout the high school, allowing simultaneous connectivity for over 500 mobile devices.” Shambarger explained.
The second phase of the project - training teachers on how to utilize and facilitate a 1:1 classroom - will begin in January. In the spring, devices will be purchased for the teachers, to allow them time to familiarize themselves with the systems over the summer.
Devices will be assigned to students in August at the start of the 2012-13 school year.
The Bremen Public Schools Technology Committee is in the process of researching various devices from several different vendors, including Dell, Apple and Lenovo.
“Our goal is to pick a device that will best work with our curriculum,” Gall said.
The school corporation is considering a four-year lease of the equipment, which would be funded through the capital projects fund.
According to Jennings, providing these technology tools to students will enhance student achievement.
“We want to inspire and empower students with anytime and anywhere learning and improve our existing efforts of transforming learning from being teacher-centered to student-centered. Students will benefit from being better able to work in teams, access and submit assignments, do research, and apply critical thinking skills,” Jennings said.
He also anticipates that the consistent use of computing devices will “increase the quantity and quality of writing, improve interpersonal and teamwork abilities and enhance the organizational skills” of BHS students. The school plans to develop assessments to judge student development of 21st Century skills in coming years.