Not all of the efforts to implement 1-to-1 computing are playing out in districts the size of the 650,000-student Los Angeles school system, or even the 72,000-student Guilford County, N.C., district.
The Dougherty County school system, in southwestern Georgia, is just one of many mid-sized districts that is moving forward with ambitious and costly efforts to match each student with a computing device, in the hope of improving students’ learning, and their tech-readiness.
The school board in the 16,000-student district recently awarded a $14.6 million contract to Dell to provide tablets and laptops throughout the district, part of an effort that will be phased in over the next two years. Students in the district will receive Venue 11 Pro tablets, and teachers will use Latitude E7440s, according to Dell.
“We’ve never had a purchase, other than capital-improvement projects, with this great a financial impact,” said R.D. Harter, public information director for the district, which is based in Albany, Ga.
The school board voted unanimously last month to approve the purchase, choosing Dell over offers from HP and Lenovo, Harter said. The district had been studying the technology project for about two years, and had taken lessons from other districts that launched large-scale technology efforts, including the Huntsville, Ala., school system, he added. (See my colleague Ben Herold’s examination of Huntsville’s efforts, which include the integration of a curriculum with the district’s 1-to-1 iPad purchase.)
“Our folks saw a lot of benefits there that could be implemented here,” Harter explained.
Some district 1-to-1 plans, most notably the L.A. Unified rollout, have been beset by technology and security problems. Others, such as the 350,000-student Miami-Dade system, have looked at those troubles and recalibrated their efforts in an attempt to smooth the technological path before any problems surfaced.
The district, which has 23 schools, will roll out devices to about half its schools, across grade levels, for the first phase of the project, Harter said. The devices will be equipped with technology designed to allow their location to be traced if they are stolen, he said. (Dell officials told Education Week they worked with district officials to connect them with a third-party provider of those services.)
A cross-section of schools were chosen for the first phase of the Dougherty school’s project. The district conducted a survey of the receptiveness of school staff to the technology project, and placed an emphasis on putting devices in those schools first, as a way to ease the transition, Harter said.
Other medium-sized districts that have set plans in motion for a 1-to-1 program include the 20,000-student Iredelle-Statesville, N.C. district, and the 23,000-student Manteca school system, in California.