As part of the implementation of FCPS’s FCPSOn program, more students throughout the county will be receiving devices for use at home in the coming years. Additionally, educators will be encouraged to further integrate technology into their lesson plans. A trial version of this program has been up and running for two years in the Chantilly High School pyramid, but soon, it will be available to all students in the county.
This recent announcement is cause for excitement, as it is indicative of how education will change in the near future. A greater emphasis on technology through education is a fantastic way to develop some rudimentary skills in students which will help them in the real world.
FCPSOn builds on a preexisting initiative that acquaints students with technology in the classroom. FCPS has been a pioneer in both incorporating technologies in the classroom, as well as making them available to students at home. In a partnership with Google, FCPS has been able to offer Google-Apps-For-Education, including access to Google Drive and similar products. FCPS has also allowed students to download Microsoft Office products on home computers through a separate partnership.
While these partnerships offer students several new opportunities, they require students to have computers of their own. Students who don’t have access to these technologies cannot take advantage of these excellent resources, creating disparity in the quality of education. Now, students will have less disparity in their education as everyone will have access to these programs and software. Educators will now be able to cater to different learning styles by employing these new technologies in their lessons. Teachers will have more freedom in creating their lesson plans including the ability to incorporate more varied formats of education such as videos or interactive websites. As someone who learns best from watching videos, having technology at home positively influences my learning.
By giving students the opportunity to use technology in the classroom, and now giving them computers at home, FCPS is offering students a competitive advantage in the real world. In a world which is increasingly driven by technology, being proficient in the use of different programs and software is always a plus. Because of this open access to technology, students in FCPS will already have knowledge in at least some of these areas, not only affecting their education but also influencing their careers. Being able to complete simple tasks like using Excel or creating an appealing visual presentation will make a job candidate stand out, and that will be possible through this program.
Giving students access to technology at home helps students retain information from lessons. According to NPR, computers at home can reinforce and build on skills taught in the classroom, bringing the learning out of the classroom. School districts that allowed their students to take laptops home over the summer showed an increase in knowledge retention throughout the summer and were able to spend fewer weeks at the beginning of the new school year reviewing old material. While excellent websites like “IXL” and “Khan Academy” are available to students to practice skills over the summer, they require access to technology at home. Now, through this program, students can not only practice old concepts but get a head start on what they’ll be learning in the upcoming school year.
Some would argue that the cost of equipping each student with a laptop would outweigh the knowledge the student gains from it. This is a valid concern and one that is shared by many taxpayers. FCPS would be one of the largest school systems to employ this kind of program, and while it has been implemented in many smaller school systems, there is no telling the kind of problems that may arise. However, FCPS has a sound plan for how this program will be paid for, and overall, the trial conducted at Chantilly has been a resounding success.
Others argue that giving students laptops encourages them to spend even more time on technology, causing a distraction to learning. However, computers distributed through the program would have specific safety nets built in to ensure students are safe and distraction-free as they browse the internet. This includes blocking certain questionable and distracting websites and only offering certain programs on the computer to begin with.
With this new program being implemented, FCPS students can look forward to a new kind of education, one which caters more to their education style and prepares them for their careers from a young age. The education revolution is coming to FCPS whether you are ready for it or not.