By Hannah Bensen, Current Staff
Fifteen years ago, personal computers were rare and expensive items. Now, they can be checked out for free at the high school.
In December, 120 Chromebook laptops were made available for student checkout, but more sets are available for classroom checkout. Both middle schools and the high school now have the laptops.
West Bend’s decision to embrace technology and buy the Chromebook laptops was in accordance with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, enacted at the beginning of this school year. Students can now bring electronic devices such as iPads, eReaders, tablets and smartphones for instructional purposes at the middle schools and at the high schools.
They were purchased to “level out the playing field for students who don’t have a device to bring,” East librarian Maren Stahle said.
The laptops can be used for a variety of subjects and functions. East sophomore Lyndsey Brunner used the laptops to review material in U.S. history. “It was [a game] called Kahoot. My teacher set up questions and answers, and when you got it correct, you got kahoot points,” Brunner said.
Laptops can also be used for the apps. Kim Barrett, an English teacher at East, uses the classroom sets to “access Google Docs and PowerPoint presentations.”
Checking out a laptop is a simple process. They are only available in the East library, but both East and West students may check out the laptops. Students must provide their school ID. “You can check it out as early as 7 a.m., and they have to be back by 3 p.m.,” Stahle said.
If students are late to return the laptop three times in a semester, they are not allowed to use the Chromebooks anymore. Students are also responsible for taking care of the device.
“If a student brings back a broken device, the technology department with the school administration will look into how the device was damaged and what caused the damage. If the damage was intentional, such as vandalism, the cost of the repair or replacement will be charged to a student, similar to a student who does not return a textbook,” said Tim Harder, the district’s director of technology.
“I feel that this program is off to a great start in the first couple months,” said Harder. “It has been great to see students utilizing their own devices through the BYOD.”
(Image: West senior Alex Haas and library aide Mary Scharrer demonstrate how to check out a Chromebook in the East Library. Photograph taken Jan. 26 by Austin Aliota, special for The Current.)