Monday, May 18, 2009

Burning Questions a School Board Has About 1:1

I've had the opportunity to visit with a handful of board members from several school districts thinking about going to a 1:1 environment. Very similar questions that they have. Here's the list of what I've experienced, often in the order they come:

  • Let me see it work
  • How do we pay for it?
  • Why do we need 1:1 instead of just "a lot of computers"?
  • What type of additional staffing would we need?
  • What is the pros and cons of the different equipment out there (Macs, Windows, Netbooks, etc.)?
  • Show me what some lessons would look like for my own kids
  • How do we insure the computers?
  • How do we keep kids safe (even away from school)?
  • What type of training are our teachers going to need to use this effectively?
  • What free software is out there?
  • Network me with other districts doing this so that I can learn what they would have done differently

As a potential 1:1 school, this is where the lead team needs to be planning, not just for the sake of "getting it past the board", but because these are the questions the community will have. Some are obvious. But there are several things that stand out to me. They want to see it in action, and if they see it, they become believers (especially if it is with their own children). So, administrators that take board members with them to visits of other 1:1 districts are much more successful of moving forward from their own initiative.

Insurance is a critical step to cover, as are policies (which doesn't get asked about as much). But very poignant, each member I talked to asked the safety question. In fact, it was a potential deal-breaker for one district. There had to be a way to filter the internet, even at home, on the school computers. Luckily for the district, the computers were set up with two internet settings, one that worked in school, and one that worked outside of school with a proxy setting, which routed all internet requests through the school's filter before going out to the internet.

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