Classroom technology is great… but where do we get the money to fund the educational technology? I would like to have a class set of laptops for my Grade 7 and 8 students to use:
- 4 Reasons why I would like to have a class set of laptops
- How much will a class set of laptops cost? Where will the money come from?
- Things to consider in my quest for a class set of laptops:
- SMART GOAL: Get a class set of laptops ($20,000) by January 2011
- I would like to provide my students with the right tools at the right time: I want them to have access to the internet, word processing and online collaboration tools following the natural flow of the lesson and (differentiated) individual student learning (as opposed to when the over-booked computer lab is available.)
- Pedagogically appropriate classroom technology can catalyze learning in the classroom. I understand that we can do great teaching and learning without the use of classroom technology. After all, great learning can happen whether we use a chalkboard, whiteboard, flip chart paper, overhead projector, powerpoint presentation, an interactive whiteboard, or LCD data projector. But I also know we live in a digital world and technology helps us to work and think at the speed of thought. (We could spend time copying text from the board, or we could spend the time focusing on higher-order thinking skills by making jot notes on the handout.)
- Students need to learn and apply critical thinking skills within a digital context. As teachers we help socialize students in the classroom: appropriate behaviours, dealing with conflict in appropriate manners, etiquette and life lessons. How is the digital world any different? WHY DON’T WE TYPE IN CAPITALS? What do you do when you get cyber-bullied. How is online communication similar or different from real-world communication?
- Technology can help close the gender gap. There is an observed gender gap in our school system: girls typically outperform boys. One theory is that school caters to learning styles more commonly found in girls. For example, girls (stereo)typically read novels and like stories; boys (stereo)typically read expository texts, non-fictional short blurbs. Online reading and writing is often not valued in school (i.e. texting, reading for specific information – like unlocking an iPhone or finding a cheat to a video game.) Novel studies usually are.
In order to have a class set of laptops that could connect to our school’s network, we’re looking at around $500 per laptop. $500 x 30 students = $15,000. Plus taxes, set up costs, etc. Let’s say $20,000.
So, where will this money come from? (And where will it continue to come from in future years to cover replacement costs and wear-and-tear?)
Here’s what I’ve brainstormed so far. (Not all options may be viable.)
- Win the lotto.
- Get funding from the existing school / school board budget.
- Apply for funding through grants (Government / Non-Government Organizations)
- Seek out Corporate Donations
- Save up my money and buy it on my own
- Find another stream of income to make the money and buy the laptops on my own.
- Find a benefactor
In April 2009, Toronto District School Board trustees voted 13 to 5 in favour of accepting $100,000 from Future Shop under the condition that the two high school computer labs be painted in Future Shop colours.
This decision has raised some controversy around the branding of our learning spaces. The arguments run along the following lines:
- Computer budgets are slashed ( by 22 per cent) and TDSB is on an eight-year replacement cycle for the computers currently in our schools. Therefore we need the money.
- Money is nice, but at what expense? How will explicit or implicit branding effect our children? Where do we draw the line between corporate sponsors and the branding of our schools?
With budget cutbacks, more and more classroom supplies are provided for by individual teachers. (Consider Erin Gruwell of Freedom Writer notoriety who purchased books out of her own pocket and arranged her own guest speakers.)
It’s one thing to buy a class set of novels. It’s another thing to buy a class set of laptops. Does having a class set of laptops create inequity?
If one Grade 8 class used laptops everyday and the other Grade 8 class didn’t, which class would you want to be in? Having a class set of laptops could create a division between haves and have-nots and create tension between students, staff and parents. (Of course, a solution would be to get a class set of laptop on a sign-out system so that individual teachers could get them for different periods of the day or different days of the week.)
We also have to look at who is getting access to the laptops? Is this another case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting left behind? For example, schools in more affluent neighbourhoods typically have more funds supplemented by the school / parent council communities.
By January 2011, find a way to get all students in my literacy classes (Language Arts / History / Geography / Drama) unlimited and individual access in class to the internet and computer technology to facilitate collaborative and differentiated instruction (wikis, google docs, blogs, SMART notebook.) (Cash equivalent of $20,000 to buy a class set of laptops)
How often do your students use computers in the classroom? Does anyone use laptops in the classroom? Thoughts?