1:1 Ratio

Aug 07 2010

The Long Range Plan for Technology in Texas includes the recommendation that all Texas school districts,

"Strive to achieve and maintain a personal computing device ratio of 1:1 for both students and professional educators."

This sounds like the right thing to do, if we strive to equip our students to be competitive in this global society preparing them for the work place of their future.

Some districts have taken the charge to heart and have delivered, like Irving ISD who sold $47 million in bonds to provide laptops and other technology for their 31,000 students, many of whom are economically disadvantaged. Other districts are selling bonds to build much needed buildings and struggling to staff them or failing to staff them and are forced to leave the new schools empty. For those Texas schools who are operating with a deficit budget and struggling to make budget cuts without letting go staff members, a 1:1 ratio for student personal computing devices seems completely out of reach. However, there may be a solution. What if the district did not purchase the personal devices for all students, but instead, began to support students as they are allowed to bring their own devices? How many students in Texas schools have their own Internet enabled cell phone, laptop, iPad, iPod Touch or other computing device? While the number of students with computing devices is probably not 100%, for secondary students it might exceed 80% and is perhaps a bit lower for elementary students. If most districts in Texas are going to have a 1:1 ratio of computing device to student they will have to think outside the box and develop policy allowing students to bring their own.

Districts allowing students to bring their own computing devices will need to provide a beefed up network prepared to accommodate the needed bandwidth and Internet filtering software. They will need to consider how to provide technical support on getting online and how to handle abuse and possible theft. Teachers will need support and training on how to manage the classroom and how to develop lessons to utilize multiple types of device. Our district has made the first step toward allowing students to bring their own devices by changing board policy to allow each campus to develop policy about personal computing devices.

I look forward to seeing teachers develop lessons that might include a "Power-Up Hour." This could be an hour when students are given a problem to solve and asked to develop possible solutions using any tool at their disposal, including their cell phones. With all the new Web 2.0 tools being introduced daily, the possibilities are endless.

What will your district do to prepare students for their future in the ever-shrinking global society?

Techucation Blog
Sandra Hines
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