1:1 Initiates Its Second Year

Western’s technology program has expanded for the new school year


Olivia Gallmeyer

From the introduction of new principal Darah Bonham, to a library in the middle of renovations, this school year has brought with it many changes, and technology is no exception. The 1:1 Initiative, first implemented last year, has been expanded so that every WAHS student is carrying a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop along with their usual books and binders.

Teachers have been using their new classroom technology in many ways. Though Blackboard has been a previous classroom staple, teachers are now using the website more than ever to post homework, announcements, and class materials. Some teachers are even utilizing mainstream social media for classroom purposes.

“The majority of my teachers use Blackboard, and my French class uses Twitter a lot too,” said senior Clare Yordy. “I like how it’s easier to get grades and work, and communicate with teachers too.”

One new feature that has appeared in classrooms this year is a messaging service called Remind. This program allows teachers to send reminders and updates directly to students through text messaging or emails, while keeping contact information private. According to the official website, one in five teachers in the United States uses Remind.

Not everything has been smooth during the transition to digital-based learning, as logistical issues have occurred with the distribution and usage of laptops. For example, an email sent out prior to the start of the school year about laptop distribution contained a “digital boot camp”, which students were expected to review before obtaining their laptops. However, the link was broken, and when the email was resent there was no explanation for the confusion.

Some criticism has focused on the organization and use of technology in classrooms. “I think it’s good to try to give students technology, but I feel the administration hasn’t done the best job handling it so far,” said Yordy. “We need to make sure teachers are using technology in ways that serve a purpose in the classroom.”

While there are still issues occurring with technology usage at Western, some problems have been solved. For example, student emails have been overhauled. The “student” subgroup on @k12albemarle.org emails are being retired. Now, all student emails are at the usual k12albemarle.org domain used by teachers. This allows for easier communication and email access, letting Western’s technology use keep marching on.