- Student Devices Save Districts Money By Tanya Roscorla on November 15, 2010
- As more school districts try to individualize instruction, they’re looking for ways to give every child a mobile device. But most of them can’t afford to buy a laptop or tablet for every child.
- By allowing students to bring their mobile devices to class, school districts provide the benefits of personalized instruction — without blowing their budgets.
- pass on their purchasing power to families, who can buy devices from vendors at the district’s discounted rate.
- if we let kids and teachers bring in the device they already have, it rechanges the whole economics of what’s possible,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking.
- Osseo Area Schools in Hennepin County, Minn., doesn’t have the budget to support a huge mobile device initiative, said Tim Wilson, the district’s chief technology officer. And neither does fellow Minnesota district Edina Public Schools, said Steve Buettner, director of district media and technology. “It would have been fiscally impossible to provide that to everyone,” Buettner said.
- districts have to figure out how to provide devices for students who can’t afford them. “You don’t want to put a family in a situation where they feel that they need to buy a $300 netbook for their student to perform in high school,” Kiker said.
- In the past, districts provided every piece of technology and supported them with existing infrastructure. But with disruptive technologies like the iPad and mobile phones, it’s impossible for IT staff members to keep their hands around everything, said Adam Seldow, director of technology at Framingham Public Schools in Massachusetts.
- If the staff members only want the public to use a small portion of the bandwidth and reserve the rest for internal use, they can do that.
- IT staff can allocate bandwidth on the different networks
- In the middle school, students bring their devices in, and for those who don’t have any, the district allows them to check out netbook computers through the media centers. Teachers can also access laptop carts to supplement the technology students bring in.
- In Edina Public Schools, the district shares minimum specifications that new mobile devices should have and leverages its purchasing power so families can buy equipment from CDW-G or Apple at a discount, Buettner said. Because the district buys the same equipment, the IT staff knows they’re getting good equipment that they can support.
- the district has pushed teachers to move more of their instructional resources to the cloud using open-source and “free” tools. That way, students can access their instructional material, collaborate and work on educational content anytime, anywhere.
- “It’s their own device, and it’s more personalized for them,” Walker said. “And being able to personalize their instruction is something that’s one of the main goals of not only the district from a strategic direction standpoint, but also, in alignment with that, is one of the goals of the program.”
- “It certainly requires teachers to be flexible,” Wilson said, “and some teachers are very nervous about it.”
- When districts plan bring-your-own-technology programs, they need to be willing not to give up when they face challenges such as finances and equity, Kiker said.
- by combining student technology with community purchasing plans, schools can make mobile devices in every student’s hands a reality. “With a little bit of creativity and some elbow grease, anybody can do this.”