1:1 Laptop Research and Analysis

We’re thinking a lot about a 1:1 student laptop initiative for our district. In the research and analysis part of a major implementation like this one, we’re looking at every possible angle BEFORE we even think about actually moving forward.  We’re already past the “WHY?” and “IS IT WORTH IT?” parts of the analysis. I know first hand what’s happening with technology, our instructional methods and learning at RCS and we have definite pockets that are ready for it, while many of our other classrooms are right on the cusp. As we push forward, we know that putting the technology into the hands of our students on a 24/7 basis is necessary. The costs are  relatively low, with a device available at $99—(that’s the cost of one textbook), so it’s not hard to imagine how we’ll cover the costs.  Making this happen without impacting our community taxpayer will obviously be a must in this economic climate.

We’re looking at various options and considering the most cost effective and useful devices and options, including purchases through BOCES and eRate, of course. After researching it, we will put the information into the hands of our Tech Committee, which includes parent and student input.

We’re considering some questions now that I’m thinking may or may not be significant hurdles to a possible implementation.  I’m sure others of you have already been there.  The purpose of this post is to see what solutions may be out there to a couple of problems. Here’s what I’m wondering about:

1. What’s the most cost effective way to get kids in our rural community connected? Not every home has Internet access. Are we close enough with pilot projects to imagine the school becoming the Internet provider for every household that contains a student? Or do we look at an option like Verizon and the same kind of connection I use now at my own home (where we don’t even have cable available to us)?

2. How do we handle the inequity? Some of our kids already have what they need at home. In fact, they have better devices and access than we’ll put into the hands of our students. How do we say to one student, “here’s a device and an Internet connection because we know you don’t have it at home.” and to another student, “you’ve already got what you need, right?” That sounds reasonable but will we have families who say, “why does she get that when we don’t?” Yet it seems ridiculous to give every child a device and a connection just to be “fair” when we know many are already set. Or is that what we need to do?

3. What happens when a student damages or loses his device? What do we do if a family refuses to accept the responsibility of their child receiving a device?

We are in the very beginning planning stages, all advice is welcome!

One Comment
  1. Here are some of my thoughts. Offer your parents an incentive in dollars to put a broadband connection in their home. It’s about $50/month for DSL, cable, MiFi etc. Give those folks willing to foot the bill a rebate or tax incentive of say half their cost. Use open educational resources like Moodle/Google Docs as the platform. Moodle from CA BOCES and Google from Google Apps for Education. Here is a link to a great study done at SUNY Delhi for the SUNY system, https://confluence.delhi.edu/display/CIS/LMS+Migration

    Choose an approach that is open and by that I mean platform agnostic. You want iPads, Androids, Windows, Macintosh, Linux etc to be able to access your system and that is why the Moodle/Google approach might be best. If you’re going to provide netbooks to each student then consider Dell’s http://diigo.com/0gz3f (you can purchase them direct from Dell) because you won’t have to put anti-virus on them. They won’t be bothered by spyware either. That will also lower your tech support time as the project moves forward. If you can afford it get the Latitudes with solid state drives.

    You might find that some students and/or parents are willing to get their own tablets. iPads get a lot of attention these days but you can get a great 10″ Android tablet from Viewsonic for $299. I own one and we’ve several that we are going to pilot in our district. Here is a link for the Viewsonic Tablets, http://www.viewsonic.com/gtablet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *