Jul 22 2008

Funding One-to-One

From the Editor

Funding One-to-One


Lee Copeland

Lee Copeland

When it comes to infusing technology into the K–12 learning environment, the consensus from educators, pundits, students and parents alike is that one-to-one programs are both improving and proliferating.

When it comes to infusing technology into the K–12 learning environment, the consensus from educators, pundits, students and parents alike is that one-to-one programs are both improving and proliferating.

Take a recent report from America’s Digital Schools, for example. Two years ago, only 30 percent of school districts reported improvements in programs that provided students with full-time access to computing devices in at least one grade level. Yet according to the recently released America’s Digital Schools 2008 survey, positive reports more than doubled last year, with 79 percent of schools saying that their programs had improved.

In addition to this report, there are numerous trends and data to indicate that one-to-one computing programs work. Sure, there are kinks that all school districts need to sort out — teacher training, computer maintenance, selecting the right form factor — but all of these challenges pale in comparison to figuring out how to fund the program.

At Fountain–Fort Carson High School in Fountain, Colo., once the school made one-to-one computing a top priority, the district shifted money around to free up funds. “The district [had] already spent quite a bit on technology,” says Principal Jim Calhoun. By redistributing existing high school computers throughout the district, IT money could be spent on the notebook program.

“There are thousands of financial decisions a school has to make,” Calhoun says. He chalks up their funding success to being smart, lean and focused.

Different school districts take different approaches, from floating a bond, obtaining outside grants, old- fashioned fundraising and asking for assistance from parents who can afford to participate.

“In many ways, it’s easier for people to look for a lump of money, be it a district levy or bond. But the money runs out eventually [and sustainability is hard],” explains Bruce Dixon, president of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation. Dixon says that parents are important partners in making a one-to-one program successful, and often need to take on part of the fees associated with a one-to-one rollout. “At the very minimum, parents [can] pay for insurance. Thirty to 50 percent of the [program’s] cost is ideal,” says Dixon.

As our feature “Affording One-to-One” points out, a best practice seems to be a good mix of persistence, creativity and parental buy-in — both figuratively and literally — to get these programs started. For more, turn to page 30.

In addition to this story, EdTech also delves into the increasing role that cyberschools play today. “Virtual Achievement,” on page 23, showcases the results achieved by Philipsburg Osceola Area School District, which created its own cyberschool to reduce the number of students leaving the district. On page 27, we spotlight another cyberinitiative — the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber), which draws more than 8,000 students with programs for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Editor in Chief, leecop@cdw.com

More Bandwidth, Please

In addition to examining one-to-one computing programs, the America’s Digital Schools 2008 report identified five other trends in education and technology:

  1. using new computing devices in the classroom;
  2. increasing use of interactive whiteboards;
  3. deployment of learning management systems;
  4. use of online assessment tools;
  5. increasing bandwidth needs and challenges.

More than 400 school administrators were surveyed between April and September of 2007.

Two-Thirds Majority

According to the Hoover Institution’s Education Next survey, 69 percent of parents would allow their high-schooler to take academic courses over the Internet, but 31 percent aren’t yet willing to take a dip in the cybereducation waters. For districts with limited course offerings, however, the option to offer online educational courses has broad appeal: Only 13 percent of parents oppose public funding for these courses, compared with 64 percent that favor funding cybercourses.