This 2018-19 school year, Renton High School is taking big steps to evolve the way they approach learning, including how students receive and manage assignments.
Each student will be (if not already), given the chance to “Check-out” a Chromebook and use it every day as their own throughout the year. With this, comes great responsibility for students, but most of all — opportunity.
According to Renton School District’s website, Digital Learning is the “practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience and encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practices.” Having this 24/7 access to important apps and databases, can promote “technology skills,” and “individual problem-solving skills,” while overall encouraging students to become independent with their learning. This access will enhance each student’s abilities, providing them with 21st century skills, that they will need in the future.
Students throughout the school are excited about the opportunity to use the Chromebooks.
“I’m very excited. I’m full IB so being able to access a computer or a laptop, without having to go home, or to the library; is a very convenient thing,” Elian Chen, a full-time International Baccalaureate (IB) student at RHS, said.
When asked about students who may misuse them, Chen felt the school shouldn’t worry about the students who might mess around.
“Some might use them for entertainment, but most of the time they’ll probably use them for school work,” he said.
Ellen Dorr, chief technology officer for Renton School District, shared the district’s concept of 1:1 schools.
“I think that we have a really strong instructional model, that can be supported with digital learning, and with access. I also think that students having their own device that they can take home and use anywhere they need to really supports their learning,” she explained.
After being asked about possible learning opportunities and challenges, Dorr presented the evident adaption of the learning culture at RHS, and that it won’t always be easy.
“I think it’s always tough when we have some shifts in how we deliver instruction or how we interact with the world. I think all of us are figuring out what social media means for us and to be a digital citizen responsibly and I think there are a lot of ways this will challenge us,” she said.
Digital Citizenship is an important topic, especially when students are growing up, and unaware of their image online. Knowing the things they share might affect their future, whether it be in college or in the workplace, is critical.
“Our behavior online can also impact our opportunities in the future — we do want to think about how we represent ourselves online, and how we always think about presenting our best selves; so that what we put online — is really representative of who we think we are,” Dorr said.
Being ethical online is critical to being a responsible user. The school helps to protect students from being incompetent online by limiting or blocking certain websites with the districts filters. This is to keep students from visiting sites that are harmful or unsafe. While this may work under the schools Wi-Fi, there are instances where certain devices will not be protected.
Dorr shared these implications, stating, “If you’re using your own device in your own hotspot, then you aren’t getting the filtering. We want to be really thoughtful about what is it that we need you to have access to, and how we also insure that we are protecting you.”
Stephanie Dennis, junior and part-time IB student at RHS, also commented on the safety of the web — sharing her experience, “I haven’t been blocked from a page, because I don’t search anything against school policy, but I’m sure some students do.”
When asked what she thinks about the filters on the web, Dennis said,” I think they are good to have because they keep record, if a student looked up something bad/illegal.”
Dennis also shared how “awesome,” it is that the schools decided to go digital, “I think being able to have a way of online research on you at all times, makes a student’s life easier.”
She’s “stoked,” about the switch and believes Renton has made a great decision in providing laptops for every student.
Thinking about the progression at Renton and the apparent changes in work ethic, is exciting to see for many. Dorr spoke on this earlier, in response to the change of the culture at RHS, “I think students are really going to push us to expand the learning opportunity’s that we provide things that are more important, and relevant and connected to your future.”
Connecting the community through common devices, online and in the real world, is something RHS should look forward to in the near future.
Like Dennis mentioned above, “I think this will most-of-all encourage students to do their best.”