Livingston Schools Launch Computer Initiative

By Brianna Kudisch

Officially launching this summer, the 1:1 computing initiative will put a laptop in the hands of every student grades seven-12 at two schools in Livingston.

Livingston High School students will receive Microsoft Surface three tablets and Heritage Middle School students will receive Lenovo laptops for digital learning and Internet access, starting in August.

In response to a survey conducted in June 2015, teachers at both Livingston High School and Heritage Middle School strongly indicated that they would include more technology-driven education plans if given the necessary tools.

As a result, the 1:1 computing initiative was produced. The brainchild of multiple people from the educational community, the 1:1 computing initiative included planning from administrators, Board of Education members, principals, media specialists, teachers, parents and input from students of the schools receiving the devices.

It has taken two school years of research, with planning including observation of other NJ districts in which technology has played an increasingly-larger role in everyday studies, such as Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood and Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington.

“The 1:1 computing initiative is the culmination of work by a dedicated technology committee and mission to provide effective technology resources and training to foster a community of academic risk taking, innovation, collaboration and global awareness,” said Marilyn Lehren, the manager of Communications/Community Outreach.

At the total cost of $1.5 million dollars, the computing initiative will not raise additional taxes. Instead, the initiative will be paid for from a capital lease spread over three years. Additionally, existing budget lines will be reallocated.

Assuming the new position of educational technologist will be Erin Borino, who has experience assimilating technology into educational areas. The district will also have four technology coaches, Ellen Fishter, Mitchell Wasserman, Dr. Dakashna Lang, and Lori Perez, and one manager of technology, Tom Douglas.

“People tend to be afraid that a 1:1 initiative and 21st century learning means that all students will be stuck like zombies behind a computer screen every day in class,” said Dr. Dakashna Lang, a Heritage middle school English teacher and subsequent technology coach.

“But it’s actually the opposite of that.”

“What it really looks like is regular, engaging, stimulating teaching that we have all seen, except now with the ability to access resources at the touch of a button and to create in the classroom what previously could only be done at home,” said Lang.

Students will be paying a $62 usage fee in the event of the laptop requiring repair or replacement. Insurance will cover the laptop, its accessories, including the pen, keyboard, and charger, and two screen replacements; however, it doesn’t cover the loss of the items. They will return the laptop at the end of each school year.

More than 2,000 devices are included in this initiative. Livingston schools ran a trial period, testing the devices to be used for Heritage and LHS during the month of January.

“One of the great benefits of the 1:1 initiative,” said Mark  Stern, the LHS principal, “is that even though we’re talking about technology, and it seems futurist and sci-fi, I actually think it makes learning more organic.”

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