NPR Story
10:38 am
Fri July 12, 2013

What Two School Districts Are Doing To Give More Students A Computer

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 10:41 am

Two education technology stories caught our eye today, touching on questions of the cost and support needed when schools provide laptop or tablet computers for their students.

The questions are important in Florida because lawmakers have required schools to deliver half of their classroom instruction digitally by 2015. Schools are also preparing for new online exams tied to Common Core State Standards.

Or colleague Elle Moxley at StateImpact Indiana visited the East Allen County School District, where they handed out 7,000 iPads to students last year — $3.6 million worth.

To prepare, district officials said they laid miles of cable and added wireless Internet access points in every classroom.

The district also worried about lost or damaged iPads. Students lost 236 tablets — but that’s less than 5 percent of all devices. Parents are billed for cracked screens or other repairs.

The district also hired three technology coaches to help teachers develop digital curriculum and lessons.

Meanwhile, Flagler County schools will give MacBook Air laptops to every student in fifth grade and higher, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

The district will lease 3,800 computers for four years at a cost of $200 per laptop per year. The district is paying for the project with money from a special sales tax voters approved last year.

So is that a good price?

The base MacBook Air is $999 according to Apple’s website. And the company is known for upgrading its laptops nearly every year.

Leasing the computers might be a smart way to ensure students are using the latest and greatest model every at least four years.

Copyright 2013 StateImpact Florida. To see more, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/.