Multiple Choice is written for educators who are leading the way in building secure online learning and testing environments at schools and universities across North America. The blog is written by staff and friends of Software Secure, developer of technology that secures the computing environment from cheating and digital distractions.
In a blow to laptop programs in the Lone Star State, the Texas Attorney General ruled that funds specifically earmarked for textbooks cannot be designated for the purchase of hardware, laptops in particular.
In 2005, the Texas House passed a bill to shift funding traditionally used for textbooks to computers and online resources. The bill, which died in the Senate, was authored in part by Apple.
Check out the article here. Is there more of this to come? What do you think?
Finally some good news in these troubled times of budget cutbacks, litigation, etc. Fullerton, California schools are moving forward with a 1:1 laptop program after reaching a settlement with the ACLU.
The program appears unique: parents of students at the 20 school will have the option to buy into the program at $1,500 a pop. If 90% of the families buy them, the district will pick up the tab for loaners for the remainder of the student population.
Governor Mike Rounds of South Dakota has recently proposed to put a laptop into the hands of, eventually, every high school student in the state. The goal, as it is with all laptop programs, is to enhance the value of teaching and learning in and out of the classroom.
"It's about engaging students with technology and using technology as a tool to teach," Wade Pogany, director of curriculum and assessment for the state education department, said. Pogany also pointed to equity as a contributing factor -- educational leaders want to make sure there is a level playing field for all students in South Dakota in terms of computing. Check out the article here.
It sure seems like the states that are rolling out laptop programs, such as Maine, tend to be on the small side. I suspect that it would be very difficult to roll out a 1:1 program in, say, Ohio let alone California or New York. Can all states can have a computer for every student? What do you think?
Sixth and seventh graders in all of Fayetteville's middle schools will receive laptops next year. Because Fayetteville falls below certain poverty thresholds, the Federal Government can provide no interest loans for educational purchases -- and the district will pay it back through a clever bond financing strategy.
This is certainly an interesting way to move forward on a 1:1 computer program. It is great to see that school districts, especially those that can perhaps benefit from it more greatly than others, can figure out ways to close the technology gap for the students they serve. Check it out here.
The State of Maine is at it once again. Many of you will remember that Angus King, erstwhile Governor, pledged to ensure that every student in the state would get a laptop. Ousted in 2002, Angus keeps making things happen. Over this past summer, he started a nonprofit group with $850,000 in private donations. The mission is to make sure that every student is connected to the internet. You've got to hand it to him -- he's a true believer! You can check it out here.
Below is a link to a very interesting article concerning Michigan's Freedom to Learn initiative. A number of middle schools who rolled out laptops as recently as last fall are experiencing quite a phenomenon: students with laptops are showing higher standardized test scores in a variety of disciplines (English, math, science, etc.) than those who do not.
The article points out that these results are not usually seen for years, let alone months. The article then goes on to discuss some specific successes as well as the financial challenges that Michigan anticipates in the future.
For those of you out there with 1-to-1 programs, this is good stuff.
Nice post over at Assorted Stuff about school laptop programs. Among other things, he points out that giving laptops to increase student motivation to learn isn't necessarily going to work in the long term, once the novelty effect wears off. He concludes his post:
"However, American education will not improve without some major alterations to everything from the calendar to curriculum to organization. Just adding laptops to the mix will not work. Computers should certainly be part of that change but just computerizing a classroom (or a kid) in the long term will make no difference to teaching and learning. None!"
"Kids nowadays know so much about computers that they can hack into whatever they want and do whatever they want to do," said Pascack Valley senior Jason Horowytz, 17. "The students use them for playing games and distracting themselves in class."
Administrators said there are procedures in place to limit this behavior.
"There are some kids who have gotten around the filters, and when we discover who they are, we lock down their desktop even further," said Erich Tusch, supervisor of technology for district. "We monitor network activity on a daily basis, and when something triggers an alert, we go out and confiscate that laptop."