As technology coordinator I'm often asked for advice regarding purchasing technology for students. Due to the launch of the district's 1:1 program that advice is modified to coincide with this new initiative.
My recommendation is largely the same as in the past, but for current fourth and eighth grade students (potentially third and seventh as well if you’re looking toward the future), it differs quite a bit. The recommendation for these students is “do not buy a device.” This advice may seem a little strange coming from the district technology coordinator, so let me explain.
The district’s technology planning committee (composed of parents, teachers, students, administrators and others), spent time focusing on a move to assigning devices to students (typically called “1 to 1” or “1:1”). Committee members saw this move as a natural progression in the district’s technology plan.
Throughout the years, the district has built computer labs, later moved to labs assigned to departments and grade levels, piloted devices being assigned to individual classrooms, and now is planning for devices to be assigned to individual students. After sharing this plan with a number of groups of stakeholders, the district has launched year-by-year rollout of a 1:1 environment (assigning devices to students) with yearly payments leading to student device ownership.
The plan started in the 2019-2020 school year for fifth and ninth-grade students. Each following year's fifth and ninth-grade students should expect an annual device payment of $40 and to receive a school-issued Chromebook to use during the next four years. This pattern would continue similarly for students new to the fifth and ninth grade each new year.
Optional (not recommended for most families)
Device Waiver Information- As a part of the plan, parents and students may choose to waive the annual payment, and elect to bring a qualifying device in place of the device the district has selected. There are good reasons to choose to waive a district-provided device - perhaps you’ve already bought your student a device or you anticipate your student doing tasks not possible on a Chromebook (ex. Photoshop, Inventor software, etc). For all other students, I believe the district selected device is the best decision. The biggest reasons for choosing a district selected device are uniformity, value and district support. Before deciding that a waiver device is the best choice for your student read the Device Waiver Information to be sure your waiver device meets necessary requirements and is the right fit for your student.
Many districts have jumped into a 1:1 effort all at once and made big shifts in instruction and procedures. We’re always learning so there is always room to improve, but I’m proud teachers and district leaders have let our good instructional practices lead the way as we take the next natural steps in device usage. Thank you for your support and partnership with the district as we cooperate to serve our students!