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Wayland High School Distributes Laptops for 1:1 Initiative

Every student at Wayland High School will have a school-owned laptop beginning with the coming school year. Laptop distribution began this week.

It's been several years in the making, but students at will each have their own MacBook Air computers when classes resume in September.

may have taken some years, but now that it's in place, the process of distributing those laptops to students had to be developed in a matter of a few months.

And, so far, the process has gone swimmingly.

"It's been fantastic," said Mary Barbar, technology specialist at Wayland High School. "I'm so pleased. I never expected it would be this smooth."

On Monday, students began picking up the computers that were delivered to Wayland High late last week. As each student came during their scheduled time, Barber provided a short tutorial walking students -- and the required parental escort -- through some critical parts of the laptop program as well as some important tools the laptops offer.

Barber said each time slot, there are four offered on each of four pickup days this week, is limited to 50 students so that questions can be effieciently answered and the pickup can proceed smoothly. By the end of the scheduled ninth grade pickup day on Monday, Barber said that slightly less than 50 percent of the ninth graders still needed to pickup their machines. They will have the opportunity to do that during alternate pickup days later this summer.

Leisha Simon, director of technology for Wayland Public Schools, has worked for some time to bring the 1:1 Laptop Initiative to reality. During leading up to the initiative, Simon explained that providing all students with identical laptops opens the door for enhanced learning at Wayland High.

While many students have laptops already, ensuring that each student is working from the same machine and with the same software means teachers can focus on using the available technology and not troublshooting issues for different computers.

The program involves Wayland High School entering into a four-year lease of about 870 MacBook Air computers. Students will keep the same computer throughout their time at Wayland High, though they will be collected occasionally for routine maintenance. Each student has the option to pay a maintanence and support fee of $60 that will protect them from accidental damage or theft; the $60 fee provides protection in addition to the Apple Care warranties covering each computer.

Simon said only about one-third of students have paid the optional fee so far, but they will be permitted to do so until probably the first week of school.

Along with a 1:1 initiative comes the need for skilled technicians who can service and troubleshoot those machines throughout the school year; therefore, Wayland High has established its own Genius Bar that will be staffed by students who will earn elective credit for a course that teaches them basics of caring for the computers.

"We knew we wanted the kids to do this," Simon said of involving the students in the Genius Bar program. "Now that it's come to fruitiion, it's better than I could have anticipated."

Simon said the Genius Bar volunteers have already developed an online scavenger hunt designed to help each student become more familiar with his/her new machine. Barber assigns the scavenger hunt to students during the pickup day tutorials she teaches.

Laptop pickup continues Wednesday for 11th graders and Thursday for 12th graders. A parent must accompany their student, and several time slots are available.

Boston students will pickup their machines on Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. The alternate pickup days are scheduled for Aug. 28 at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.; Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.     

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