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Hampton Public Schools to adopt laptop initiative

Jordan Crawford | 10/17/2013, 9:49 a.m.

During a public presentation that officials said should have taken place before the first vote on April 25, the laptops were portrayed as a necessary renewal of technology that has become deeply ingrained in Henrico’s educational process.

“I think it’s essential that we continue to do this,” said School Board member John W. Montgomery Jr. after multiple officials said the program equips students with the computer skills they will need in virtually every post-graduation endeavor.

The school system entered into a four-year lease for 18,825 Dell E6430 laptops, 22 servers and 1,450 docking stations, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The contract also includes a warranty, support services, and replacement chargers and batteries.

The new laptops will cost about $4.4 million per year, which school officials said is less than what it would cost to extend the current lease.

The cost per unit is $936 for the entire lease. When the lease expires, the school system can buy the machines for $1 or have Dell collect and dispose of the old equipment.

Obviously, the cost of technology would dominate the conversation on One-To-One given the current economic condition. For many districts, making the investment is not possible.

Keith Krueger, CEO of Consortium for School Networks (CoSN), said, “Rethinking how to get to a ubiquitous technology environment is critical in these tough economic times. And buying a device for every child is unscalable in most places.”

Districtadministration.com says that this fact has caused some schools to develop “Bring Your Own Technology” (BYOT) and “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) programs.

As one can accurately assume, students and teachers bring their own laptops, iPads, smartphones, and MP3 Players to school and the school itself just pays for public Wi-Fi.

A Successful Outlook

Though there are apparent downsides to the adoption of the laptop initiative, it really falls on the school to determine how the program does.

Christina Grady, technology instructor at Lindsay Middle School in Hampton, believes the primary mission for the initiative is to transform teaching, learning, and assessment at the school.

“A new generation of students expects a learning environment that integrates today’s digital tools, accommodates a mobile lifestyle, adapts to individual learning styles, and encourages collaboration and teamwork,” she said.

The “Project Red” 2007 study found nine strategies that are common to successful One-To-One programs, with the most important being daily technology use in intervention classes, strong change management leadership, and regular online student collaboration.

In the Mooresville (N.C.) Graded School District, where every child in grades 4 through 12 is issued a MacBook through the district’s Digital Conversion program, evidence of success from implementation in the 2006-2007 school year to the 2009- 2010 school year includes increases in end-of-grade pass rates from 70 to 86 percent, in graduation rates from 77 to 86 percent, and in students attending college from 74 to 86 percent.

A good balance in leadership seems to be crucial. Teacher support and pushing by the principal can positively shape how the technology is being used. If one side goes lacking, the entire operation fails.