Today, lots of schools are looking for ways to develop new technology-based programs or incorporate tehcnology in new and different ways in curricula, teacher training progams and other areas. And that's great news. As the world becomes more and more tech-dependent, having students who understand how to navigate that environment is critical to their future success as adults. But, just because you have a plan in place doesn't mean you have the funding to implement it. As many schools find out, implementation costs of even modest tech programs can be quite high, often far exceeding a district's tech budget.Fortuntately, there are solutions.
In addition to raising funds through grassroots efforts like parent-teacher groups and local foundations, there are a couple of federal programs available that can make tech funding a reality for many districts looking to implement new strategies or expand on existing programs:
Also known as the Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries, the E-Rate program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), an independent nonprofit group designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The program provides funding to schools and libraries to help offset the cost of obtaining Internet access, telecommunications and internal network communications connections. There are five categories under which funding may be obtained:
Discounts on these services range from 20 percent to 90 percent, and the level of support a school or district may receive depends on economic data as well as whether the school is located in an urban or rural area. The funding program has an annual cap of about $2.3 billion.Although this is essentially an FCC-related grant, the USAC oversees application processing, eligibility confirmation and funds disbursement.
Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT)
The goal of this federal program is to enhance and improve student learning and achievement by incorporating technology in elementary and secondary school environments. In addition, the program aims to ensure students become technologically literate by the end of eighth grade by providing teacher training and curriculum development for programs that can be broadly implemented. Grants are provided to state educational agencies based on the state’s proportionate share of funding under Part A of Title I. According to the EETT website, types of projects include:
the use of new or existing technologies to improve academic achievement
the development of technology-based curricula that designed to meet state academic standards
the use of technology to increase parent involvement
the use of technology to collect and analyze data to enhance professional performance
Finding funding for tech programs for your school may seem like a hassle, but the time you invest in learning about different funding options can yield great results. As with any fundraising project, the key is to diversify and consider many different sources, from local and state programs to parent-teacher groups and educaitonal foundations to federal grants like the two described here. Take time to review any grant's requirements to make sure your application is custom-tailored both to your needs and to the funding organization's goals and objectives, and before you know it, you could have the funds you need to make your program a reality.
Across the country, schools are adopting new plans and programs to help address the need for greater access to technology throughout their districts. Since so many districts are grappling with state and federal funding shortfalls, schools have begun looking elsewhere to get the funding they need to put their technology initiatives in place.
If you’re one of those districts, read on to find out about four potential sources of funding that could help make your district’s technology dreams come true:
One of the goals of the current administration is to help improve the availability of technology in K-12 schools, and as a result, federal grant programs have become available to help schools get the funding they need. Although many districts and school groups make the mistake of believing federal grant money is only available through the U.S. Department of Education, in fact, many different government agencies offer grants. The key is to search broadly and read the grant terms carefully to learn which ones may apply to your school’s needs. To make it easier to learn about which grants are available, the government has developed a website - grants.gov - that serves as a federal grants clearinghouse. The list is comprehensive, so be prepared to spend some time to learn which grants might apply to your needs.
Title II funding
Title II funding is federal funding that’s provided to state and local educational agencies for their disbursement. That means that the type and number of grants available will depend on your state or local Title II agencies. One of the best places to start looking is at your state department of education’s website. You can also do an Internet search using the term “Title II” coupled with your state name or the name of your county or other locality to turn up potential sources of Title II funding in your area. Pay close attention to funding requirements when deciding whether or not to apply; Title II cuts have resulted in many funding opportunities adopting more stringent qualification guidelines.
If your school has a PTA, PTF or other parent organization, tapping them for assistance can be an effective way of helping your school get the funding it needs. Most parent organizations are experienced in raising funds through a wide variety of activities and special events, and most members are extremely eager to help their child’s school succeed. Even the community at large is usually well engaged in any effort that can help improve their school’s overall performance – and hence, their property values.
Getting publicity can be key here; ideally, you want to garner media attention that will enable your fund raising efforts to move beyond the school grounds and well into the community, including the involvement of local businesses. Having a person or team handle publicity – that is, writing press releases, reaching out to the local media, writing letters to the editor and even writing brief articles for the local paper – can be a critical part of your campaign’s success.
In addition to parent groups, educational foundations can be very helpful in acquiring funding. Again, looking beyond your local community and focusing on foundations with state or national presence is an important part of making sure the foundations you approach have the funds available to meet your needs. Private foundations and charities can have very specific guidelines and requirements that determine qualification, and even a minor misstep in the application process can mean disqualification of your school. Careful, diligent review of the application and eligibility requirements are crucial to ensuring your grant is properly developed to have the best chance of receiving funding.
Ready to get started? Getting organized is the key. Make sure to assign specific roles to anyone involved in the grant-writing or fund-seeking process, and develop a system to keep track of your progress to make sure you don’t miss important deadlines that might kick your school out of the running.
The 21st century is synonymous with the age of technology, and therefore has transformed education in ways that affect both teaching and learning. Implementing technology integration and new technology curriculum in K-12 schools is a major emphasis for principals and superintendents who also need to know how to prepare their staff for the necessary changes.
Principals and superintendents will first need to assess what kind of technology savvy their teachers already possess--or not--and create professional development plans accordingly. Then, in order for K-12 teachers to embrace and use new instructional methods that incorporate educational technology and maximize the effectiveness of new technology curriculum, the teachers need to develop and possess the 3 C's: confidence, competence, and content.
How to Prepare Teachers and Staff for New Technology Integration
Principals and superintendents should start with an assessment of their teaching staff, which will reveal what their teachers know and don’t know about technology. These assessments should be written to follow the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE standards, formerly known as the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers, or NETS-T; these are the technology skills that teachers should be regularly using in the classroom. They include the following, from the ISTE-NETS standards:
Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.
Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments.
Model digital age work and learning.
Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.
Engage in professional growth and leadership.
Based on the assessment results, teachers should be grouped by ability level and an individual professional development plan should be created for each teacher. This will ensure that each teacher gains the confidence and competence he or she needs to be effective in teaching and implementing high quality technology and content in the technology curriculum.
Develop the 3 C's
The next step in preparation should focus on the 3 C’s for teachers as they strive to adopt and use technology and the technology curriculum in the classroom.
In order for technology to really make a difference at each school, teachers must develop and possess the 3 C's, as they participate in technology training with Integration Specialists:
• Confidence – Teaching staff develop confidence as they learn from training and understanding vocabulary and the basics. This training process includes demonstration, practice, trial and error, and more practice to reinforce new skills.
• Competence – Teaching staff gain competence from modeling and learning best practices, and seeing technology impact their students' learning. This training process includes staff observing skilled computer teachers using age and grade appropriate technology skills, while weaving them into relevant educational themes. This helps teachers learn acquire “on the job” and "hands-on" training, while assisting the computer teachers and learning and implementing best practices.
• Content – Teaching staff learn how to develop great content as they evaluate current classroom lessons and create project-based technology units. This training process includes creating and implementing standards-based lesson plans that both teach and inspire students. By taking an inventory of all available classroom technology, as well as reviewing and aligning with the state or core standards, highly skilled Integration Specialists weave engaging technology projects into existing classroom lesson plans. This allows classroom teachers to see their lesson plans transformed into relevant and effective projects enriched by 21st century technology.
Why Is Professional Development So Important?
Assessing teaching staff and preparing them to implement technology and technology curriculum are not isolated incidents in just a few schools or school districts. Around the nation, numerous educational groups are determining the best ways to prepare teaching staff to effectively manage technology integration, including:
Professional development coordinators and directors.
Grant Committees and other funding groups.
Teacher unions and associations.
How is YOUR school handling assessment and preparation of your teaching staff? Technology integration and proper implementation of technology curriculum is vital to prepare students for life in the 21st century as technologically literate adults.
Technology literacy is a relatively new initiative in 21st century schools. Ironically, many students tend to have more knowledge about various forms of technology than do their teachers. This is because so many students typically enjoy their digital gadgets and use them frequently for socializing, so they are well-versed in how to use technology. Teachers need to harness these existing interests and skills, and redirect them for use within a technology curriculum.
5 Components Required to Implement New K-12 Technology Curriculum
Principles, superintendents, IT directors, curriculum directors, and technology committees, along with teachers, need to consider the foundational components that go into rolling out a new technology curriculum into schools, from K-12 grade levels.
Here are five key components or areas to consider when implementing any new K-12 technology curriculum.
Many teachers don't possess the technological skills that some of their students do, and therefore often lack the confidence necessary to implement a new technology curriculum. It is essential to assess, train, and support teachers and staff members through meaningful training and modeling of the technology curriculum and its implementation. This ensures that teachers observe and practice current best practices on technology use for their respective grade levels and subjects.
Student Technology Curriculum
Students in grades K-12 are typically divided between those who have and eagerly use digital gadgets of all kinds, and those who do not have or use them, either due to lack of interest or skills, or no access to them. It is vital to evaluate and equip both types of students with the technology skills they need to be better students today and technologically literate or savvy global citizens for tomorrow. This means redirecting the existing skills some students have, and providing instruction for those students who lack technological skills.
Lesson Plan Development
The implementation of a new technology curriculum must start at the basic level of developing strategic classroom lesson plans and integrating relevant technology projects that incorporate the most current presentation tools and web 2.0 methods. These steps will serve to improve classroom instruction, engage students, and improve learning outcomes.
Technology Equipment and IT Support
Before any implementation of a technology curriculum can take place, it is crucial to evaluate a school technology infrastructure to ensure it is set up and prepared for maximum effectiveness of the roll out of the curriculum. This may require making the necessary additions for the school to transition through stages from an existing simple computer lab environment, to a mobile lab environment, to an efficient one-to-one device environment for all or select grade levels.
Assessment and Project Management
No technology curriculum implementation is complete without evaluating its effectiveness and facilitation of the achievement of designated goals for students. This falls under the category of project management, and typically requires the development of a strategic assessment plan. That plan includes periodic assessment of goals to ensure the entire project stays on task and accomplishes what it was originally designed to do.
Benefits of Technology in the Classroom
Why should schools consider implementing a technology curriculum? Consider these benefits described in a report by the U.S. Department of Education:
Changes the dynamics of student-teacher roles. Students become more active learners, rather than passive recipients, while teachers become more facilitators than lecturers of instruction.
Increases motivation and self-esteem. Students exhibit more initiative and take more pride in their accomplishments.
Improves technical skills. Even at elementary school levels, students acquire a broad range of skills with computer software and digital gadgets.
Facilitates accomplishment of more complex tasks. Students tend to develop higher-order thinking skills and processes.
Increases peer collaboration. Students enjoy working in pairs and teams, and even provide peer tutoring for those students who lack in technological skills.
Increases use of outside resources. Students have wider access to a wealth of resources outside the classroom.
Improves design skills with more focus on meeting needs of the intended audience. Students use multimedia enhancements targeted for the needs and preferences of the intended audience.
Technology in education is very important and changing faster than many districts can keep up with it. Because of that, it is very tempting to dive in and purchase those laptops, tablets or other devices. However, this is really one area where taking time to learn about the market and studying what the future may offer will pay off. Learn more about why a hasty technology purchase could be one of the biggest mistakes you could make!
Technology Has a Learning Curve
Just because you purchase tablets, laptops or other devices for use in the classroom, if the administration and teachers don’t understand the best ways to utilize them, they won’t be used. Any technology purchase should have training and staff development in mind as a major consideration. After all, if the devices will not be used because the teachers do not understand the benefits, what is the point in purchasing them?
Technology is Always Changing
Obviously what is cutting edge today will be outdated even a year down the road. However, that cannot be a reason to put off a purchase--since it will always be the case to a degree. However, it does make an argument for putting more care into technology decisions. Think about what products are likely to retain long-term support and updates. These are the products that make sense to purchase. Additionally, technology items that can be upgraded may be a cost-efficient solution for this problem. Adding additional storage, memory or peripherals is often significantly cheaper than purchasing new core systems.
Don’t Let Trends Guide Decisions
Along the same lines, it is important to look beyond what is popular right now and look at what will be functional and useful in the future. While tablets are extremely useful and popular right now, completely overlooking keyboard products could be a big mistake. Not only is it important that students become comfortable using a keyboard, touchscreen products are notoriously easy to break and malfunction. Sometimes developing a plan that embraces both current trends and long-lasting standbys may be the right solution.
Learn From Other’s Mistakes
Over the past decade or two, school systems of all sizes have adopted new technology plans. Which ones have failed and which ones have succeeded. One notable example is Los Angeles’ iPad program. Only a small percentage of teachers favor continuing with the program. After all, these devices are essentially useless when rolled out in schools that are barely meeting the basic needs of the students. While no program will have a 100% success rate, discovering which have been the most successful can help you make an educated decision as to your technology purchase.
As you can see, it only makes sense to spend time researching devices, planning for implementation and educating yourself and others within your school or district about technology before you make a decision. If you are careful with your purchase, you will be able to get the most from your devices both now and in the future--instead of regretting your decision a few short months down the road.
The face of education has changed drastically in the 21st century, particularly as education embraces the age of technology and incorporates elements of technology within K-12 schools. This is necessary to equip and prepare students with the technological literacy they will need in college and beyond, throughout life, as global citizens. Among the newest form of technology to implement within the curriculum is mobile technology, which includes such devices as digital tablets, smartphones, iPads, iPods, e-readers and other types of electronic gadgets.
8 Reasons for K-12 Schools To Use Mobile Technology in Their Curriculum
Principles, IT directors, superintendents, and stakeholders should purchase mobile technology devices for their students and teachers. The pros or benefits of purchasing mobile technology include these eight considerations.
1. Mobile technology provides students with complex problem solving skills. As technology continues to evolve, students trained in schools on proper use of mobile technology will be better prepared for the future. They will acquire the complex problem-solving ability to walk up to any technological environment and device, and be able to figure out how to use it.
2. Mobile technology helps students acquire skill sets that will be critical for their future success. Since the job market is quickly evolving, students are no longer competing on a limited local basis; they are competing globally, due to the Internet making global access and interaction available. The ability of students to acquire and demonstrate their competencies with mobile technologies will become increasingly critical in the upcoming years and decades.
3. Mobile technology provides teachers with unlimited access to multimedia rich resources. Current teaching strategies--such as Common Core, flipped classrooms, and blended learning--all benefit from the increasing use of mobile technology. It also provides teachers with unlimited multimedia-enriched curriculum resources that greatly benefit students.
4. Mobile technology gives teachers the ability to use tools students are already comfortable with using. Since so many students already use mobile devices in their everyday lives, it is easy to redirect this use and transition into using mobile technology for school activities. In fact, Darrell West--founding Director of the Center for Technology Innovation, published a paper stating that 52 percent of students in grades 6-12 regularly use digital tablets for everyday schoolwork.
5. Mobile technology provides teachers and students with a superior way to collect and organize educational content. Digital portfolios and other collaborative mobile technology tools, such as cloud drives, increasingly provide secure and accessible ways to conveniently store and share data.
6. Mobile technology provides students a easier way to collaborate on projects. Students can now use their mobile devices such as smart phones, iPads, Chromebooks, or laptops to store and share data that is easily accessible both in and outside the classroom. This makes it possible to collaborate with other students in the classroom or long distance with other classrooms around the world.
7. Mobile technology creates learning opportunities before, during, and after class – 24/7 learning. Teachers can now be confident that students will continue their learning outside of class. Students can learn beyond their schools' curriculum by tapping into experts on topics that interest them or support their classroom learning.
8. Mobile technology allows unlimited ways to differentiate learning. Each student learns differently and mobile technology allows students to tap into the best media type to accommodate their learning styles. There resources align with all of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains, which include the following: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
A common acronym well-known in schools now is BYOD -- this stands for Bring Your Own Device, and is often the concept or initiative that provides relief to strained school budgets. As students are encouraged and allowed to bring their own electronic and digital devices to school, under strict policy guidelines for their use as mobile technology in the classroom, they acquire even greater skills for appropriate use in school and beyond.
Most students are more prepared for technology in the classroom than parents and teachers may realize. In fact, even students from kindergarten to grade 5 or 6 are often ready for high-tech classrooms before their teachers are prepared to integrate that technology.
Principals, teachers, and parents need to evaluate and understand if and when students are prepared for new technology in the classroom. At least five signs indicate students are ready for high-tech classrooms.
5 Signs of Technologically Prepared K-12 Students
Following are five signs that K-12 students are prepared for high-tech classrooms:
Students bring mobile devices from home – During summer and Christmas vacations, students often receive or buy digital devices such as tablets, laptops, and other technologies. Students then bring these mobile devices with them to their classrooms, typically intending to use them for purposes other than schoolwork. This indicates a prime opportunity for teachers to integrate these types of technology into the classroom and redirect their use for academics rather than allow them to become distractions.
Students communicate with teachers and each other using Twitter, email, or other social media tools – Many times, students or parents ask for Twitter handles, email addresses, or Facebook pages to allow for communication and socialization outside of school hours. While some teachers don’t like or use any of these forms of technology, others welcome and use it, and see the potential for its use in education. In the 21st century, these common and recognized forms of communication technology indicate it's time for administrators in schools to make decisions and establish policies governing acceptable uses for these types of communication, both inside and outside the classroom environment.
Students find ways to supplement classroom learning at home using digital media – Teachers may begin to notice students turning in homework that looks different than it used to: word processed, color laser printed, digitally laid out, or enhanced with multimedia or other artistic effects. This is a good indication that it’s time to evaluate the best way to leverage these tools for improved classroom learning and at-home studying. Teachers might consider conducting a survey to determine which students have access to various types of technology, and develop a technology strategy based on survey results.
Students become bored in the classroom, but whenever technology is introduced in the classroom, they exhibit excitement – It's always a challenge to keep students engaged and interested in listening and participating in the classroom. Today's technology, however, integrated in the classroom can turn bored, tuned out students, into excited, dynamic learners. Digital light boards, document cameras, and mobile carts of computers are often the first step towards a 1 to 1 device environment (meaning each student possesses and uses at least one form of technology). Teachers may be amazed at how quickly learning behaviors change and students focus more on actively participating, simply by having access to these tools. This helps teachers to know they are on the right track.
Students ask if homework can be done and delivered using home computers or other digital devices – Frequently, students will drive the need for change in the classroom. Students familiar with using technology at home can assist in bringing classrooms to the next level. When the majority of students are using technology to do their homework and conduct research, as well as learn about and use different digital tools to collaborate with one another, access data, and turn in assignments, it's time for administrators and teachers to evaluate and integrate new technologies.
How do YOUR students measure up based on this list of five signs? How prepared are your teachers to recognize, accept, and implement technology to create high-tech classrooms?
As the age of technology marches on through the 21st century, it has changed the face of education and created new ways to both teach and learn. Technology integration in the classroom is a major initiative to develop technological literacy in K-12 students in order to prepare them for life beyond school.
Most K-12 teachers have had to embrace new instructional methodologies that incorporate technology, even as their students--already immersed in various forms of digital technology--are eager to engage in this relatively new way of learning.
Yet, Dr. Jamie McKenzie, long-time educator and editor of From Now On - The Educational Technology Journal, warns his fellow educators to consider carefully the purpose of upgrading and integrating technology. He uses the term "toolishness" to describe the foolishness of "planning and installing networks and computers before clarifying educational purpose and how these tools might be used." In other words, teachers and students don't need to have access to and use every available technological tool on the market unless it serves a real purpose towards meeting learning objectives and improving outcomes.
3 Considerations Before Upgrading and Integrating Technology
Teachers should keep several things in mind before upgrading and integrating technology in their K-12 classroom, Here are three primary considerations:
Develop and implement a plan. As Dr. McKenzie emphasized, it does no good for a school district to simply purchase large quantities of equipment to upgrade technology in the district's schools if there is no plan in place defining the purpose for the integration of those tools. The administrator and faculty members within each individual school must first develop a plan for technology integration that clearly defines how each tool, whether laptops or handheld devices or any other form of technology, will help students meet designated learning objectives and improve expected outcomes. Only then should they implement the established plan to upgrade and integrate approved forms of technology in the classroom.
Work with, not against, the school's budget. Jim Johnson, former K-12 educator and current Director of Instructional and Information Technology Service at Indiana State University, is all for upgrading and integrating technology at the K-12 level...as long as school budgets can sustain the financial burden. An alternative, he suggested, is to encourage the implementation of Bring Your Own Device, commonly known as BYOD. Johnson stated, "Instead of using the school budget to buy technology, they should say, ‘You have a laptop, you have an iPad, we'll integrate you in.'" Doing so, Johnson suggested, engages students in using technological skills they already have, but channels them more directly toward meeting learning objectives. Johnson emphasized, "You've got to have good teaching and use instructional time effectively. You need creative, engaging lessons that use technology so that the students are active participants in learning."
Align with common core standards. One change in common core standards in the 21st century, due to such federal initiatives as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, is an increased demand for students to achieve technological literacy. To accomplish this, schools and teachers must upgrade and integrate technology in the classroom. Rebecca Rinehart, director of technology for Indiana's Greenwood Community Schools, stated that their schools needed "more technology and digital content in the curriculum" and federal stimulus resources funded a much needed upgrade that "led to enhanced technology offerings." For example, according to the district's Director of Schools, Dr. Dale Lynch, some of the enhanced technology allowed them to more fully align with their state's common core standards that "call for students to use digital tools and the Internet to produce and publish writing and to interact with peers."
So should you and your school upgrade and integrate technology? Absolutely! Just make sure that you avoid "toolishness" by developing and implementing a plan, working with and not against your school's budget, and aligning with common core standards.
*for details download case study at www.beyondteched.com/swimgrid
WATCH CASE STUDY VIDEO
Over the past two school years, use of Chromebooks at BEYOND Technology Education (BTE) client schools across the U.S. has increased by 20%. The cost is often times half of traditional mobile solutions. These schools are transforming from single computer labs to mobile environments with technology-rich curriculum. Saint Joachim Catholic School in Costa Mesa, Calif. is one example of a school that has successfully moved its students, teachers and parent
community into a 21st century learning environment using Chromebooks and BTE’s four-year School-Wide Integration Model (SWIMGrid).
“Soon after purchasing the Chromebooks, we realized that our limited knowledge wouldn’t allow us to see the full potential for technology in classrooms,” said Sister Kathleen Marie, principal at Saint Joachim Catholic School. “We knew we had to think about the future and dream big, and BTE gave us the roadmap to make that a reality for our students and teachers.” When asked to reflect on the use of technology on campus, one eighth grade student added: “The world is evolving so quickly in its use of technology that I think if we didn’t have all this stuff at our school I would feel a step behind everybody.”
After collaborating with BTE three years ago, Saint Joachim Catholic School now has a
dedicated technology instructor, all teachers are trained on how to integrate technology into their curriculum, and every student is actively engaged in technology in ways that maximize their learning time both in and out of the classroom.
Teachers like Kim Cashin who teaches fourth grade said, “My students are seeing the direct implication that there are real world connections between what they learn in the classroom and technology.” Kim Zippwald who teaches sixth grade added, “The integration projects align better with the curriculum, the pace and personality of the individual classes being taught.”
“Schools are using Chromebooks more because they are a cost effective option and they like the efficiency and accessibility of data and documents in Google Drive,” said Ernie Delgado, co-founder and co-CEO of BTE. “Students and teachers can easily save, find, share and collaborate on several types of documents. To further support our schools we now have three Google Certified Educators to manage the increase in Google related activity.”
Learn more at www.beyondteched.com/swimgrid
The acronym BYOD, which stands for Bring Your Own Device, has become a recognized term and strategy for technology use and integration in 21st century schools. However, administrators and principals should first assess the technological skills and knowledge of their teachers. Secondly, they should carefully consider the purposes of upgrading and integrating technology.
Warning and Consideration PRIOR to BYOD Implementation
As long-time educator and editor of From Now On - The Educational Technology Journal, Dr. Jamie McKenzie warns, educators should guard against "toolishness" -- referring to the foolishness of integrating technology before establishing how and why schools should use these devices.
In other words, putting mobile devices in the hands of every teacher and student should not be the first step. Instead, the first focus should be on training teachers, updating lesson plans, and making sure the wireless networks within schools are bulletproof. Sampling mobile devices in a mobile cart setup would be a viable option to try first, before putting devices in each person's hand.
Many schools that chose a 1-to- 1 program as their first step quickly recognized that they weren’t ready. A good example is the Los Angeles Unified school district's failed iPad rollout, which is still in the news as an example to others to learn from their mistakes of not addressing security issues, as well as loss or theft issues.
Top 6 Mobile Brands and Products for Student Learning
Once a school district's administrator and board of directors have determined their schools are ready for digital devices, how do principals, teachers, superintendents, and technology directors decide the best devices for students in their schools?
Here are six of the mobile brands and products deemed best for student learning, based on surveys and feedback:
Laptop/Ultrabook – A laptop or ultrabook offers the most flexibility and computing power of all mobile devices. Schools and educators should not abandon computing in the classroom, because most of the world still runs on computers. Even though tablets have become increasingly popular and have taken market share away from laptops, it does not mean that computing is not important. Laptops and ultrabooks provide the convenience and options of a computer, without the encumbrance of finding the space for a computer monitor and tower.
Microsoft Surface – The Microsoft Surface tablet offers two options for schools to choose for their students: a) models with keyboards; and b) models with touch screens. Microsoft Surface lines offer both options at very competitive prices. Another feature of Microsoft Surface that makes it ideal for students is it works with Office products such as Word and PowerPoint; allows for file sharing; and offers compatibility with thousands of apps.
Google Chromebook – The Chromebook can be a fantastic choice for schools that have incorporated the Google drive environment. It is a cost-effective choice and a powerful laptop that includes a web-based console, and allows for real-time collaboration.
iPad – The IOS/Apple ecosystem within iPads offers numerous options for educators, if schools have prepared themselves to manage issues such as security and loss or theft. Although not a fully operational computer, the iPad is effective for many school-related functions.
Samsung Galaxy Tablet – The Samsung Galaxy Tablet has the features and price point that are school-budget friendly. It includes numerous apps, access to the Internet, social media connections, and functions as a digital e-reader. In addition, the android operating system looks like it might surpass IOS in the near future.
Kindle Fire – Backed by Amazon, the Kindle offers media enriched tools that rival those offered by Apple and Google, especially for downloading and reading ebooks. The Kindle is also on the lower end of the pricing spectrum and is worth consideration for schools.