August 22, 2014
Charlottesville City Schools launched the Blended Learning to Advance Student Thinking (BLAST) program in 2011.
It was a one-to-one initiative for 6-12 graders, encompassing about 2000 students in all, making sure every student had an internet-ready device to use in the classroom.
"Putting a device into each student's hand was a way to enable easy access, guaranteed access to resources that are available online and through other technology solutions, "said Jeff Faust, Director of Technology for Charlottesville City Schools.
Since the devices rolled out, the tablets were heavily criticized for being too slow and glitchy, making some teachers and students frustrated at the program all together.
"Feedback has been mixed to be honest with you," said Faust. "I think that by taking adopter stance by doing this as one of the first schools in the area and certainly in the state to roll out 1-1, 6-12 as we did some of our teachers were ready and some of our teachers weren't ready."
"It's amazing the amount of technology that the students have access to here and it does change my teaching and their learning," said Melissa Powell, teacher at Walker Upper Elementary School.
This year Walker Upper Elementary School is a part of a pilot program to try out a new tablet, one with an attached keyboard and hopefully faster software.
Despite some of the frustration surrounding the older tablets Powell says the new technology is leading city schools in the right direction.
"Even if it was slow I would much rather have a device there for students to work with than not to have one at all."