One-to-One Initiatives in Spite of Tight Budgets

by Jean Tower

budget-cuts

image credit: http://gothamschools.org/

At a time when most school districts across the commonwealth and around the country are feeling the pinch and being asked to tighten their belts, some schools here in Massachusetts are still moving forward with exciting technology plans and purchases.

In a recent Boston Globe article both Burlington and Beverly High Schools are mentioned because of their one-to-one initiatives. The article states that Burlington High School will provide iPad2s to all students, using a lease to spread the cost over three years. Beverly High School, according to the article, plans to provide students with laptops. “Students will be able to lease the units for about $25 a month with the option to purchase them for a nominal price upon graduation.”

Natick Public Schools has their long-range technology plan online, and the budget allocates $260,000 to purchase devices for students in grade 8, and laptops for teachers. Framingham has made a multi-year commitment to spend $500,000 on technology for each of the next four years.

All of these planned expenditures come at the same time as many schools are looking at growing class sizes, budget shortfalls, and possibly losing staff.

Why?

I think it is because many schools are realizing how vital it is for students to have ready access to technology all the time. Obviously, technology cannot be a 45-minute class that a student goes to once a day or a few times each week – the challenge for many districts has not been the concept of anytime, anywhere learning with technology, but has been funding.  Teaching with technology, allowing students more ownership of their learning, imparting 21st century skills, encouraging BYOD (bring your own device), building networks that are end-user-device-agnostic, the ubiquity of smart phones, better cell phone coverage maps, learning what you want when you want by connecting to experts online and viewing you tube videos – these are all driving forces that cannot be ignored.

In the long-range technology plan is the district I work in, we say, “Student achievement is the driving force behind this technology plan. Student learning is at the core of what we do. We believe that the infusion of technology must be incorporated up front into the design of curriculum units, as an essential component that enhances and expands the learning experience. [..] Students will have ample opportunities to meet the state technology skills and information fluency standards. Students will have equitable, high-quality, and frequent learning experiences using technology across the district.”

To me, these all seem like pretty obvious goals. If they were vitamins, they would be the recommended minimum daily allowance. I’m very interested that some local districts are making commitments to fund their visions, and I will be watching closely to see 1) if they can garner and maintain the community support to continue, and 2) their results.

I say go for it. We are cheering you on.

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