Exploring computing in Indiana classrooms. How can we best use technology dollars to promote achievement?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

So what is the plan?

As IDOE staff and others discussed the issue of HOW to go about creating a new paradigm for the use of technology in Indiana schools, we not only talked a lot internally, we spoke to people in schools throughout the state. We floated a lot of ideas and did a lot of study about schools in Indiana and in other states who were using new approaches.

While Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and other states get most of the attention for their laptop 1:1 projects, Indiana has its share of innovation in that area as well. Indianapolis Public Schools and Crawfordsville Community Schools, and Alexandria Community Schools and North Daviees Community Schools have major initiatives using laptop computers. The results from these program point to the fact that 1:1 initiatives work – both for the schools involved and the students.

It seemed clear that if the approach was to change, it needed to focus on one-to-one computing, or at least it should encompass a certain degree of ubiquity – meaning that computers should be broadly available for teachers to use as tools and for students to use as resources.

The program had to meet the needs of teachers and students as well as meeting other criteria. Discussions on the topic raised several issues. Most of the non-curricular issues can be summarized as follows:

Most efforts using a 1:1 model are experimental – few examples of sustained use/success beyond single schools

Affordability: programs to equip all students are expensive & difficult to sustain (e.g., Cobb County, GA high school initiative projected to cost more than $100 Million; Michigan)

When deployed at middle school levels, students many times lose their computers when graduating to high school

Replacement costs are high when computers reach end of life

Financial risk of loss of or damage to computers

Privacy / security / access management issues

Out of this came the eight guiding principles of the project:

Affordability – highly economical, low cost/low investment model – (initial per student cost in the $400-600 range (including desk, CPU and monitor); Refresh cost in the $200-300 range)

Sustainability - for participating high schools – minimal need for ongoing investment or reinvestment

Repeatability – 1:1 model is replicable in any typical high school

Flexibility - deployment is adaptable to both wireless or wired; new or older schools; small or large schools

Openness - “Linux” operating system and other open source software (e.g., OpenOffice/StarOffice) minimize software costs

Compatibility – supports and enables future direction of Indiana education initiatives (e.g., on-line testing; end of course assessments; technology skills)

Commonality – solution designed with “common denominator” elements readily accessible to participating schools

Scalability – the 1:1 technical deployment model scales reliably to 300,000+ simultaneous student & teacher users

With these elements as a foundation, there was a starting point for the project.

I’ll examine each of these items in a future post.


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