Woodgrove Adjusts to Technological Changes

Woodgrove High School greeted students and teachers with open arms this fall – the technology, not so much. Due to recent budget cuts, a majority of the school’s technology has been limited. The new laptops, software, and lack of printers have had both positive and negative impacts on everyone at Woodgrove.

With the inclination to save money, LCPS removed most of the desktop computers from Woodgrove. The county attempted to supplement the cut with a reduced amount of laptops. Staff and students have immediately noticed a difference.
The laptops have had an enormous effect on the Technology Team and how they approach their job. TRT Keith Hicks says this is the toughest his job has ever been.

“The new model of computer used in the school this year has resulted in a shift in how we allocate and utilize computers in the building,” said Hicks. He, Mrs. McIntyre, and Ms. Scott have spent the past two months trying to familiarize themselves with the new system and are still working on ways to efficiently help students and staff with the technology.

Mr. Hicks says that a big issue has been the USB ports on the laptops. Each laptop has just two USB ports, so the school had to purchase USB ports because teachers could not easily plug in a flash-drive or connect to the Promethean. Many staff members, like social studies teacher Mr. Greening, have experienced some sort of problem with the laptops.

“I’ve had a lot of difficulty projecting images from the laptop onto the Promethean,” said Greening, referring to the dual screen setup on the laptops.
To deal with the problems of the laptop, Mr. Greening began using a computer monitor that was donated to him by a student’s parent.

Students are also trying to adjust to the reduction of school computers. Senior Ryan Virts believes the laptops cause more problems than the desktops.

“I think the laptops are very annoying,” said Virts. “Whenever I’m typing, the cursor just jumps across the screen.”

Virts has been at Woodgrove since freshman year and had become accustomed to the desktops. He finds the laptops more challenging to deal with, as do many returning Woodgrove students.

Some Woodgrove students, such as junior Sara Hallam, have embraced the transition from desktops to laptops.

“I like the laptops because, when I’m in the library, I can take a laptop to a back table to focus on my work better,” said Hallam. “Office 365 (preloaded software on the laptops) is helpful because I can share documents with my friends when we are doing a project.”

LCPS also decided to cut printers from the Woodgrove budget. Students and teachers can no longer print documents in classrooms, and instead have to print to the computer labs or the library. Now the outdated and overused printers are proving to be unreliable.

“The printers go offline a lot, so you may print something that doesn’t come out for four or five minutes,” said school librarian Mr. Kane. “The computers in the library are also set to print in a downstairs computer lab by default, and many students end up wasting paper and their own time.”

It’s not just students that have struggled with the reduced number of printers – teachers have also found the printing process more frustrating and time-consuming. English teacher Ms. Sim has spent valuable time every day searching for a reliable printer to use.

“The printers and copiers break all the time,” said Ms. Sim. “It’s easy for me to give up printing supplemental texts for students because the printers are so frustrating.”

Laptops and printers aren’t the only things changing at Woodgrove. Starting the second semester, the county will begin its Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) initiative. Students are encouraged to bring their laptops, tablets, and e-readers to school. LCPS wifi will be open to all students so they will be able to use their technology effectively, starting in January.

Mr. Greening likes the idea of students using their own technology in school, and believes it will be beneficial to both students and teachers.

“I’m trying to create a paperless classroom environment, and right now that is difficult without students being able to use the WiFi,” said Greening.

While BYOT may seem helpful to teachers who hope to utilize its online accessibility benefits, it could cause worry for teachers concerned about student responsibilities.

“There is going to be a transition period with student responsibility,” said social studies teacher Mr. Bennett. “BYOT will probably not be beneficial because teachers will have to design lesson plans around it.”

There are also some classes that require paper and textbooks to effectively complete the course. These classes could be affected by a shifting method in learning.

“I need students to have hard-copy novels in my classes,” said Ms. Sim. “AP Literature is not a course that can be taught or understood by only using technology.”

Whether students or teachers love or hate the system, the technological changes are here to stay. Problems will arise from these changes, but staff and students will learn to adjust according to them.