Technology in the classroom

OVSD supplies Chromebooks to area high schools – 

By Patricia Beech – 

Imagine having the world at your fingertips while sitting in a classroom.
That’s an experience the Ohio Valley School District wants to give students in grades 7-12 at all three district Junior and Senior High schools.
To prepare students for learning in the age of technology OVSD has provided Chromebooks for every student to use in the 2018-2019 school year.
Chromebooks are a type of stripped-down laptop that connects wirelessly to the Internet via Wifi. The device uses mainly web-based applications including Google Classroom.
“In rural areas Chromebooks level the playing field for students because they’ll have access to content from all over the world,” said Peebles High School Principal Steve Appelman. “We’re in the infant stages right now, but we’re truly excited about bringing 21st century learning skills into our classrooms.”
Appelman said the devices will not only increase educational rigor in classrooms, but will also help develop students’ critical thinking skills.
“Teachers are going to have so much more material that they can access,” he said. “When we were in school, you had a text book and that was the only material – now, we’ve got the textbook and millions of sites where kids can do research.”
As an educational tool, Chromebooks enhance learning and improve communications.
Wyatt Gleadle, Algebra and Geometry teacher at PHS, says the devices have opened up a lot of opportunities in assessment and data gathering.
“We can give quizzes and immediately get all the graded results back which allows us to shape our instruction going forward because you know what the weak areas are without having to spend time grading papers and sorting through the results,” says Gleadle. “It makes everything much more efficient and a lot more engaging”
It also represents a savings for students in Gleadle’s class.
“The calculators we used in class would cost kids $100 plus, now you can get free apps on the internet,” he says. “Students can essentially do the same thing for free as long as they have a Chromebook and internet access.”
PHS Language Arts teacher, Casey Reed says she sees two major benefits
“Students in my Sinclair Community College classes can easily access their links, assignments, and dropboxes where they turn in their papers,” says Reed. “Before I would have to sign up for a Chromebook cart, and of course I couldn’t get it everyday, so we were limited as to when we could go to the actual internet site, but now, students can access it whenever they need to.”
She said the devices also help students improve their typing or word-processing skills.
PHS Computer Science teacher David Vogler believes the Chromebooks will have an impact, but says they do have limits.
“They’re not the ‘end all, be all’ for educating students and they certainly can’t replace teachers,” he says, “They’re just a tool – like a textbook or a pencil – we’ll use them in the classroom, but there will be days when they’re not used at all.”
While Chromebooks do help students become more familiar with using technology, Vogler says the technology is always changing and improving.
“Google is putting out new things all the time that help us stay on the cutting edge,” he says, “I can guarantee you two things – we will have problems and we won’t know how to fix them all, but we’re all here to learn together, and I’m going to rely on the central office tech department big time because they’re the ones who can help us with any problems we might have.”
Gleadle says it will take time to learn how to use the devices effectively.
“First off, we have to figure out how to make the most of them, and we have to figure out what the best apps are to use in the classroom,” he says. “There’s always a learning curve even if you’ve been exposed to a lot of technology, you still have to learn how to do new things.”
Students are allowed to take their Chromebooks home. Gleadle says learning to be responsible for the devices will be a challenge for many students.
“It’s no different than having a textbook – it’s school property and you have to take care of it and be responsible for it,” he says, “Students will forget to charge them, and they’ll forget them at home until they learn it’s essential school equipment they have to care of and keep with them.”