By Kennedy Westfall and Jessica Hunley
As technology progresses, schools must reconsider the resources they make available to students and teachers. Recently, various districts have provided personalized laptops to their students, implementing online e-learning and digital textbooks to make the learning experience more efficient. However, the use of individual laptops could impact both in-school and public media centers and computer labs.
Librarian, Ms. Amy Fish, gave her perspective on individual laptops and their impacts on in-school computer labs.
She said, “Classrooms use them for research or any online activity like Kahoot.”
Ms. Fish said even if FWCS decided to implement individual computers, computer labs wouldn’t completely disappear; they would be required as backups or possibly used during standardized testing since some applications that hold standardized tests do not allow it to be opened using a WI-FI server. She said that even if they are not used on a regular basis, they are still a necessity.
Senior Josh Bryan attended a middle school in South Dakota that used personalized laptops. He said the laptops were issued by the school and were used in class “about 75 percent of the time,” nearly eliminating the need for common computers.
In fact, the school only used the shared computers in the media center to research books, and those in the computer labs for standardized testing. Bryan’s experience proves that the implementation of personalized laptops would significantly affect the use of in-school media centers and computer labs.
How would public libraries be influenced by personal laptops in schools? Although the use of computers in public libraries would most likely decrease due to the introduction of personalized laptops in schools, they offer countless other resources. Bryan said that, in South Dakota, he “got more books from the military (public) library than the school library.” However, he never went to the library to use its computer labs; Bryan said that the laptops, although school-issued, were taken home in the evenings to be charged for the next day, giving students access to their online work outside of class. Even though the opportunity to complete work at home was present, Bryan said that, for most students, “if you didn’t get [work] done in class, you didn’t do it at all.”
Fort Wayne Community Schools has yet to make a formal decision regarding the use of personalized laptops in schools. However, it is always important to consider how the change would affect the school’s preexisting assets, including media centers and libraries.