Oklahoma School Students Can Lease New Laptops

Approximately 70 percent of Fort Gibson students lease either a laptop or tablet computer.

by Cathy Spaulding, Muskogee Phoenix / August 8, 2018

(TNS) — Fort Gibson middle school and high school students can lease sleeker laptops from the district this year.

District Technology Director Jason Wicks said the district bought 900 Chromebook laptops for about $250 each. The cost includes warranty and the FTG logo etched on each device, he said.

The district will roll out the new laptops during the first few weeks of school, he said. Classes resume Aug. 17.

He said the computers will be leased to students for $25 each.

This is the sixth year Fort Gibson has had students use a laptop or tablet computer. Middle school and high school students were encouraged to bring personal devices. The school leased laptops to students who didn't bring their own, Wicks said.

Wicks said 70 percent of students lease a device from the district.

However, students are encouraged to bring personal devices, he said.

Students with personal devices should have the Google Chrome browser installed on them, he said.

"Most of the devices are able, with the app store, to add the Google Chrome browser," he said. "And once you have the browser, you have access to all the Google docs and the G Suite for education."

G Suite offers a word processing program and email program, he said. A "chat" program enables teachers and administrators to instantly communicate with each other.

"We can actually have a group chat as well," Wicks said. "Principals can get on there with third-grade teachers."

Such access also can help during "virtual days," when school is dismissed because of weather. Virtual days allow students to have class, or access to teachers, while at home.

Another program, Google Drive, enables users to store files on their servers, synchronize files across devices and share files.

"That gives you the mail, the Google Drive with unlimited storage, the collaboration and sharing ability in each of those applications," he said. "The nice thing with schools signing up with G Suite for Education is that it's unlimited. Kids can store that stuff up, and when they graduate, they can take it out and move it to their own account when they graduate."

The new program also should reduce paper usage, Wicks said.

"That's a goal of mine, for sure," he said. "Just to be able to do things online that may not require as much time, go to print, fill out paperwork."

He said forms can be filled out and tests can be graded through the Google Classroom application.

Wicks said the district had been changing from Microsoft Windows to a Google operating system since Feb. He said Google is faster than Windows.

"It's going to be new to all our kids and the teachers for the first full year this year," he said, adding that the operating system is easier on the machines.

He said the older laptops will go to the Early Learning Center and Intermediate Elementary.

"Instead of trashing or recycling our older laptops we had been using for the past five years, we're repurposing those with software that allows us to put the Google operating system on the machines," Wicks said. "They'll boot up just like a Chromebook would."

Devices at the Early Learning Center will be for classroom only. Students in the Intermediate Elementary, middle school and high school will be able to take them home.

©2018 the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Thank You, Teachers

Teachers are front and center in the transition to distance learning and the battle to provide education – no matter what is happening in the world.

Securing Schools: The 5 Key Components of a Comprehensive Approach to Cybersecurity in Education

Data breaches cause real-world damage and tarnish the credibility of the organizations that fall prey to them.

Platforms & Programs