There’s no turning back from the one-to-one system. Technology and education are now intertwined, and all students should reach a certain level of comfort and experience with computers before they go off to college. However, the one-to-one program’s pilot year did not go as smoothly as many had expected it to, and while its problems are most likely fixable, they will require a serious reevaluation of the program.
Bullis takes tremendous pride in staying one step ahead of the technology curve. The school encourages teachers to incorporate everything from video lectures to online assessments to social media into the classroom experience. Bullis also, of course, requires all students to bring a laptop to school.
While students’ proficiency with computers will better prepare them for high tech careers, the school’s one-to-one policy has several notable drawbacks.
Constant access to laptops has become more of a distraction than a help to most students. In fairness, the one-to-one system did not create this problem, but it has certainly exacerbated it. Before this school year, many students brought laptops to school and used them improperly much of the time, but flooding the student body with more computers has added fuel to the fire.
The World Wide Web can be very tempting to teenagers, regardless of who they are or what they’re interested in. Too often, teachers compete with Facebook, ESPN, and online shopping for their students’ attention, and when they have to compete, they usually lose.
In an ideal world, students, not school policy makers, should be accountable for how they use computers. Bullis is no fairy tale, though, and the misuse of computers is so widespread that any effort to reprimand individual students would be futile.
The school should also consider that students don’t just hurt themselves when they misuse their computers. They distract fellow students and show an inexcusable level of rudeness to their teachers. If teachers realize to what extent students ignore them in class, they do an excellent job of hiding their disgust.
Student behavior, or computer etiquette, if you will, must improve drastically. Bullis, being especially concerned with becoming a better community, cannot let this disrespect slide into normalcy. In order for it to improve, the administration must spark a culture change.
Computers are not the problem; it’s who controls them. Students now pull out their laptops at the beginning of class almost reflexively. Once that happens, teachers often lose the focus and attention that they deserve from their classes. Students have the power to choose between history and Twitter or between English and a favorite computer game.
The implementation of the one-to-one program has tipped the balance of power in the students’ favor, and that must be corrected before next year. The one-to-one system is attractive to the school partly to give teachers the flexibility to weave in all kinds of technology into lesson plans. Instead, it has given students the flexibility to look at and focus on almost anything they want.
Teachers desperately need to regain control of their classrooms, and the way to do that is to have them control the computers in them.
Students should only be allowed to use computers when specifically directed to. Teachers should give comportment forms to students surfing the web more often.
Computers give students an unprecedented amount of freedom in the classroom. To this point, students have abused this freedom. In order to preserve a productive, engaging, and collaborative learning environment, Bullis must establish clear and specific ground rules that define when, why, and how computers can be used in class.