The Detroit Lakes High School is going digital this year with one-to-one Chromebooks for all 850 students in grades 9 through 12.
High school principal Darren Wolf said the administration was faced with a decision last year concerning the two computer labs at the high school: They could upgrade the labs or look into another option, so they began testing devices to see if they would work for the students.
"Basically what we did last year is we did a little research with our students and teachers," Wolf said.
The staff and students experimented with iPads and Chromebooks, seeing how they would work in a classroom setting.
"I said 'Ok, what do we think is the best'," Wolf remembers, and there were positives for both types of devices, but they ultimately decided on Chromebooks because they were a little easier to use and a little more cost-effective.
"Our ninth graders were using the iPads, but we were finding that it wasn't catching on," Wolf said. "They're really excited about it (the Chromebooks). Overwhelmingly, they said, 'Yes, we want Chromebooks!"
The money that would have updated the computer labs then went towards the Chromebooks, and the staff has been working with them over the summer to get them classroom-ready.
Now that the teachers have had time to adjust to the devices, visiting Google Summit and doing training at the high school, Wolf plans to distribute the devices to students before the beginning of school, so students can get used to using them as well.
The media center will be open during the back-to-school open house night Aug. 31 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., so students can pick up their devices. They will also be able to pick them up the following morning from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as a few other times. Parents should be watching for a letter in the mail, which lists the times for pick up.
Wolf said the new devices will help with teacher-student communication, allowing students to receive emails virtually immediately. Students will also have programs at their fingertips, allowing them to create spreadsheets, presentations and other documents fairly easily.
However, having the world at your fingertips comes with risks. There will be permission slips to sign and a presentation for parents at the back-to-school open house. Also, for the first couple of weeks of school, students will have digital citizenship training during Laker Time.
The high school is also offering a $10 protection plan, which covers general device issues and the cost of the first two repairs. However, if a device gets lost or broken, the cost is a little higher under the protection plan.
But Wolf isn't worried about having those sorts of issues.
"We did not have any issues (while testing the devices) last year," Wolf said.
The middle school will also be getting Chromebooks for classrooms this year, but they will not be on a one-to-one basis. They will be in rooms on carts for students to use.
The iPads will also then be transferred to the elementary schools for students to use in the classroom.