“It starts with the teachers. They get the ball rolling,” says Scott Hagedorn, director of technology for Hardin-Jefferson Independent School District, in Texas.
The school district is located near the state’s border with Louisiana and includes roughly 2,000 students. Over the last few years, the administration has been rolling out one-to-one programs, providing iPads throughout the district.
Before the one-to-one program, the district had a bring-your-own-technology program. This worked fine for a while, but the district began to notice that some students were performing better than others. After looking into the situation further, district administrators found that students who didn’t have Internet access at home and students who worked after school were falling further behind because they could not access the same online resources as students who were able to watch tutorial videos at home.
One concerned parent said, “My child is not being given the same resources.”
This led to a one-to-one program, in which the school provided the computers. The district started with one grade for the first year of the program, explains Hagedorn.
“This allowed us to work the program into the curriculum and leave time to upgrade their aging network,” he says.
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Something needed to be done, since the district’s current network would not support a one-to-one program. This challenge also showed the limitations of the network to the board so that they could get the resources needed to upgrade the network. In year two, a one-to-one program was established in every grade through middle school. One high school grade was done in the third year, and the district is looking to finish all high school grades this year.
Every year, one-to-one programs in more and more schools are rolling out iPad devices, Chromebooks and other tablets to students. The numerous benefits of one-to-one programs are not questioned, but there are huge costs involved with the implementation of the hardware and the network. To get the funding for these programs, you will need the school board’s approval. The following is advice on how to sell a one-to-one program to your school board.
Learning How to Open Their Eyes
Hagedorn recommends that you show your board how others are using technology in the classroom.
“How do we make our students more competitive versus other states?” he adds.
“We showed the board a video made by two C-level students,” explains Hagedorn. “These two students had access to technology at their school, and they were able to put together a portfolio of their film-editing experience. These students were more likely to receive scholarships over our students in our district with 4.0 GPAs, because they didn’t have experience using technology.
“Other examples of schools using technology for students include elementary podcasting, middle school live-streaming broadcasts of sports, iTunes U, Google classrooms and elementary programming,” says Hagedorn.
Examine the Cost Factors
Explain how the new technology is going to replace the old technology, suggests Hagedorn.
“One example we gave the board of how we can save money was with textbooks. By the time students get their textbooks, they are already outdated. With a one-to-one program, they can access up-to-date textbooks on computers to replace the actual textbooks,” he says. “Another example is saving money on paper costs, as everything can be done on the computers (except with some math).”
Along with cost savings, keep in mind that you will have added costs beyond the hardware. How will a one-to-one program affect your network? Will all of the computers slow down or bottleneck your network? “Your board will ask about this, so be ready to answer it,” warns Hagedorn. “If you are considering a one-to-one program, you need to consider having one access point per classroom. We went with Aerohive access points for our classrooms.”
Show What Others Are Doing
Hagedorn suggests that an easy way to get the board to approve your one-to-one program is to show what the surrounding districts are doing. “Find out who your school board competes with, and show [the board] how your school can be better by having the same technology in the classroom,” he adds.
“If you can get a cart of tablets and test them out with one class, this will show the school board how one-to-one can work for your district,” explains Hagedorn. “Find out what your students are interested in, and tailor your pitch to the school board to match what you can do with your students.”