The idea here is that instead of outfitting a classroom with a set of computers, software, and miscellaneous hardware which has a three - five year "life span" before becoming obsolete, that you buy one set for the teacher. Here in Washington, a program will be piloted next year. These classrooms will receive the following (at a cost of ~$8400):
- a SMART Board interactive whiteboard and peripherals from SMART Technologies
- a Hitachi CP-RS55 digital projector
- a Califone Sound System
- an AverVision 300 digital document camera
- an Avocent Longview Wireless Extender for the projector
- an eInstruction wireless response system
- an annual subscription to eBoard, an online educational learning environment
- other peripherals and software solutions that are requested.
It is still a hefty price tag---but is far cheaper to update over time than continuing to buy new classroom sets of student hardware and software every few years. "The combination of a whiteboard, projector, sound system, and personal response system makes up for the lack of individual computing devices for students by allowing them to engage with the instructor, the technology, and each other, while not leaving them huddled around a single desktop PC four at a time."
I admit that I really do like this idea. I am especially interested in the wireless response system and would like to see one demonstrated. According to the eSchool article, "the wireless eInstruction keypad system permits anonymous, immediate student responses to teacher polls and allows educators to view the success of any given lesson immediately. Its data-management system also allows teachers to track student progress and performance data against state standards." Sounds like quite a tool, don't you think?
When I begin to think about the cost involved in outfitting classrooms like this, my head hurts. My district has always been generous about getting technology into the classroom, but we are mostly the "buy new computers and software" mode. I wonder if I could convince anyone to try to switch us over to something different? Some long term planning, some thought given to this for our upcoming Maintenance and Operations levy, and maybe the process could be started. In the meantime, perhaps I'll try to sniff out some tech grants.