As a parent of two school-aged children who act as if they can’t survive without their tablets, I can appreciate the pressure that schools face to deliver access to high-quality mobile devices and networks.
While these upgrades certainly cost money, administrators can take heart that innovative technologies, such as tablets, offer students and teachers enormous flexibility and give districts an opportunity to pursue innovation without busting already-tight budgets.
Case in point: Blue Springs R-IV School District in Blue Springs, Mo., recently purchased 1,170 Lenovo ThinkPad Helix convertible Ultrabooks for its faculty. Administrators followed up on that purchase by investing in 3,000 Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e convertible notebooks for students. Teachers and students have expressed enthusiasm for the versatile devices, which can transform from notebook computers to tablets in a matter of seconds.
Online Learning’s Future
A study by the Christensen Institute indicates that by 2019, 50 percent of high school students will take at least one online course. More than 90 percent of those courses will be taken by students who attend brick-and-mortar schools through a combination of face-to-face and virtual experiences — or hybrid and blended learning.
At Aspire Public Schools, a network of charter schools in California and Tennessee, educators are embracing the blended learning model to reach students in new ways.
Aspire deployed Cisco switches and Meraki wireless access points at 12 of its 38 schools. The school system plans to convert the rest of its elementary schools to blended learning as funds become available.
Whether your district is looking to upgrade its stable of computing hardware or revamp its network backbone to accommodate an increase in online learning, the time for change is here. Embrace it.