Has the goal of becoming a 1:1 district blinded us to the realities of budget, asset allocation, and financial responsibility? Have the means become more important than the end goal?
Schools have been going 1:1 at a dramatic rate. The cost of doing so has been astronomical, not just in terms of the cost of new computers, but also in the effort of staff, and the energy required to sell another tax raise/budget increase to a board and community.
The science, student success, and teacher feedback from 1:1 programs is irrefutable. Having a computer for every student and increasing the time they spend with it has a positive effect on student learning. The question is, does it have to be a new computer to be effective? Do schools have to spend hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars to see these results?
Schools have so many under-utilized assets. Computer labs that are rarely used, carts of laptops that are no longer checked out, and sheds of old equipment waiting to be sold at an upcoming auction.
What if those assets are the key to unlocking a better 1:1 program: a program that provides the same benefits to students while decreasing the work load on staff, and leaving money in the budget? What if you could get a 1:1 program and have enough money left over to give teachers a raise, update network infrastructure, or buy other equipment?
Here at Neverware, we've helped hundreds of schools across the US use the assets they already own to build a sustainable 1:1 program. Those 10 carts of laptops that are not being used, the storage room with 400 Latitude laptops, and the computer lab with desktops that are becoming too slow to use daily, are now being converted into fast and simple Chromebooks.
New computers are not fundamentally more valuable to a student's learning process than old computers, if the old computers can keep up with student needs. When schools focus more on the end goal, and less on how others have achieved it, more creative solutions become apparent.