Seven weeks after each Batesville High School student received a MacBook Air laptop, “they are engaged,” Jackie Huber told Batesville Community School Corp. trustees Sept. 17.
The IT curriculum director pointed out, “It has opened up so many new learning opportunities.” Teachers have told her “the kids are loving” 1:1 technology “and the work being submitted is authentic, genuine and well done.”
Between Aug. 1-Sept. 1, BHS users transferred 2.15 terabytes (trillion bits) of data, according to IT support director Mike Weiler.
Teachers use the software program My Big Campus to share information. “It’s a huge communication tool. They can post announcements and discussion (topics). They can blog, use calendaring for organization” and give assessments, said Huber.
Students also use their laptops to type reports, do research, watch videos and complete bellringers, which are warmups at the beginning of class.
Anything that students type in My Big Campus gets tracked and IT employees receive reports if anything is inappropriate. “The purpose is to teach the students proper online communication.” She wants teens to learn “anything you post may never, ever get deleted,” which could come back to haunt them at college and job application time.
Before students could use their laptops, a wireless network was installed throughout the four schools with 189 access points, including one in every BHS and Batesville Middle School classroom and the hallways of the other two buildings.
At 45 minutes to an hour for each computer, it took almost three months for IT workers to image (download identical copies of all software needed) 765 computers over the summer, Weiler said.
Attendees had questions. Trustee Dr. Steve Stein wondered how students were able to print documents. He replied that many printers were winnowed to several as BHS goes almost paperless. Students have access to certain ones.
Fourth-grade teacher Kayla Pinckley asked if students could e-mail persons outside of school buildings. Weiler explained that every domain getting e-mails must be whitelisted (approved). Some local domains have been, which means students can contact parents at work if that address has been whitelisted.
Trustee Mike Bettice inquired about spam filters. “My Big Campus does have a content filter and BCSC has another spam filter,” which catch most, but not all questionable sites.
Junior Gabi Spurlock asked which students will get to keep their laptops. Weiler answered, “That’s still up in the air.” Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts added, “For sure, this year’s freshmen.” Officials are still debating the financial aspects of whether older students can retain theirs after graduation.
Stein asked how many Hoosier schools have 1:1 (a computer for each student) initiatives. According to Huber, “There aren’t a ton.” Roberts believed the closest one to Batesville is in Scott County. “The number is increasing every year.”
Huber said Milan, South Ripley and Jac-Cen-Del school districts are talking about adding 1:1 in the next year or two, but are unsure of which devices.
The 1:1 project here will continue. BCSC’s goal is for students in grades K-8 to each have some type of device by 2014.
The proposed 2013-14 calendar is balanced and more aligned with other southeastern Indiana corporations, the superintendent said. Key changes include starting school one week earlier and adding a week to fall break.
The first student day would be Wednesday, July 31, 2013, with fall break Oct. 7-18, winter break Dec. 23-Jan. 3 and spring break March 17-28. The last student day would be May 29 with graduation Saturday, June 7, 2014.
The first week of fall and spring breaks may offer intercessions (enrichment classes), which could range from art and drama to high ability and remediation, Roberts noted. The first week of spring break could be used to make up snow days.
Bettice asked, “What have we heard from ROD (Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn Special Education Cooperative) and the career center?” He answered, “They are waiting for schools to come to a consensus.” Since listening to conversations, both would have similar schedules, the superintendent expected. Stein proposed Aug. 1 as the first day as families may frown on a July date. After a first reading and some tweaking, the calendar should be adopted Oct. 15.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at 812-934-4343, Ext. 113; or debbie.blank@ batesvilleheraldtribune.com.