A six-year plan to provide computer devices to all Pickerington Local School District students is ahead of schedule and the initiative is expected to be fully integrated within two years.
In 2016-17, district officials launched the "One2One" technology program that provided Dell Chromebooks 11 to all its fifth- and sixth-graders, as well as Apple iPad minis to each student at Pickerington and Violet elementary schools.
That effort, designed to enhance teaching and learning in classrooms and better prepare students for life after high school, was so well-received, district officials said they would expedite a plan to outfit all district students with computer tablets within six years to a four-year plan.
Now, after additional evaluation, district leaders have decided to step up the One2One program even further.
Under the new plan, all students in the district are expected to have devices by the end of August.
"After numerous classroom visits with teachers, administrators and (Pickerington) Board of Education members, we decided to speed up the process of going One2One," said Brian Seymour, Pickerington's director of instructional technology.
"We want to give all of our students that same engaging, personalized instruction that we saw starting to happen in the middle schools last year," Seymour said.
"So a six-year plan has now turned into a two-year plan."
One2One proponents say the computers not only allow students to complete classroom lessons, but they also encourage independent research and other learning.
Similar programs have been used in school districts throughout the country in recent years, including many in central Ohio.
Districts such as Hilliard and Upper Arlington launched their initiatives in 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively.
Upper Arlington took roughly two school years to provide devices to all of its approximately 3,200 students.
"We believe strongly in providing a personalized learning experience for all of our students," Upper Arlington Superintendent Paul Imhoff said last August.
"One2One technology is an amazing tool to help our teachers meet the needs of every student at their own level," Imhoff said.
Seymour noted Pickerington, with a total enrollment of about 10,210 students, would be one of the largest school districts in the state to fully integrate One2One with all students."
The technology push has earned recognition for the district, with Seymour being named an "Outstanding Technology User Administrator" by the Ohio Instructional Technology Integration Partnership.
He also received a "Making IT Happen Award" from the International Society for Technology, and District Administration Magazine recognized Pickerington as a "District of Distinction" for leadership in enhancing digital learning among students and staff.
Pickerington Superintendent Chris Briggs said integration of the One2One initiative is one of things that appealed to him when he sought to become Pickerington's school chief.
"One of the things that excited me about coming to Pickerington schools was the district's commitment to integrating technology into the classrooms in strategic and forward-thinking ways," Briggs said.
"It's an approach that is designed to change how teachers teach and how students learn," he said. "Investing in technology will give us much greater ability to individualize education and gauge each student's progress in profound and effective ways.
"It also makes the classroom even more student-centered, creating learning environments in which students have greater ownership in their individual education, collaboration is a vital part of learning and teachers take on more of a role of facilitator than lecturer."
According to Seymour, the district will spend an average of $1.1 million to $1.2 million a year to provide the One2One devices to students.
Students pay $5 for software purchases, but their only other costs for the initiative are an optional $35 annual fee if they chose to purchase insurance for their devices.
Seymour said the One2One initiative gives students 24/7 access to technology for assignments and educational purposes.
He said it allows the district to convert computer labs for more innovation purposes.
Last year, old computer labs in the district's middle schools became "innovation labs" where students used technology for group projects and creative multimedia projects.
Banks of computers were replaced by large TV screens so groups of students could collaborate on projects using their individual devices.
"We have really moved away from buying textbooks and have moved more toward digital content that is downloaded onto the devices used by the students," Seymour said. "What I like about digital content is that it allows us to measure where each individual student is at in the educational curriculum."
"Teachers can personalize instruction and focus on specific needs within small groups. Now, we're focusing more on providing what each student needs, including enrichment or intervention opportunities within each subject."
Seymour said the tablet computers and other technology integration into classrooms enable teachers to spend less time standing in front of a classroom lecturing and more time facilitating students' own explorations and creativity.
"Education is changing," Seymour said. "Handouts and worksheets will not really be used anymore.
"Schoolwork is all going to be managed through online tools such as Google Classroom," he said. "The district wants to engage with newer technologies and incorporate them into traditional tasks."