Emerging Technology

The Technical Nitty-Gritty of 1:1

Setting up a 1:1 initiative in your school district is more complex and expensive than simply buying devices for every student. There are costs associated with management for computing devices, spare computing devices for support, peripherals for computing devices, storage issues and storage units and then personnel working at the local campus level. This is strictly on the technical support side of the organization; not addressing changes on the curriculum instruction side, which supports personnel and district policies of the organization. As noted in a prior article regarding 1:1 initiatives, everything needs to start from the vision of learning, not from the technical side of the house.

Once that vision been created and you are actually planning a 1:1 rollout you will obviously purchase computing devices. You will also need to purchase a device management application, or if you are using Chrome, you purchase Google Remote Console. Now you can manage all of your devices from a central location. Regarding virus and malware protection; if you are using Google Docs you are done, they take care of that. If you are using some type of Windows kernel, you will need to purchase an application for each device and install it.

There are peripherals you will need to purchase. First off, purchase an additional 20 percent of the device power supplies. Kids do not forget the computing device but boy do they forget and lose the power supply! Soon they are stealing from each other and even the teacher.

A USB-based computing device, if available, is a great way to go. Belkin and others sell an eight-way power hub you can place in the classroom for recharging and the student buys another USB cable. For students who take devices home, you should also purchase some type of inexpensive but protective case ($30 -$35) for the students to place their device in when it is not being used.

For those grades levels whose students do not take them home, you will need to purchase some inexpensive tabletop/countertop storage units. The newer, more functional ones hold up to 15 devices in slots like a dish rack and multi-outlet power strip on the back ($250).

Great! You have distributed computing devices to the students. Now the students start dropping them and knocking them off of desks and cabinets. Up front, you purchased seven to 10 percent of the same computing device as spares so students will have a working device within two or three hours of destroying the one they have.

Yes, purchase insurance and prorate the total fee on an annual basis to the students’ parents. You will need to create an IT Service Center on each campus to house those spares. Repurposing the old computer lab, no longer required, works great. Most districts will have roaming technicians, so someone at the campus, perhaps the media specialist if the computer lab is nearby, will need to be available to manage and track the exchanges.

A technician travels to each campus on a weekly basis and determines which devices can be repaired in house or sent to the manufacturer’s repair facility. Do not pay for expedited service. This is prohibitively expensive for the quantity of repairs you will need. Count on the repair to take two to four weeks when you include shipping via UPS Ground. That’s the reason you need up to 10 percent of devices as spares.

You made it through the year and now the students are returning hundreds of devices back to the district. This is where the need for the old computer room becomes very apparent. You will need to install storage racks (simple but sturdy) and simply start stacking them. You will also need to hire a service to clean those cases. I am sure you can imagine what can happen when devices travel with students!

The last thing you need is plan to replace the computing device battery once every three years. Battery technology has not yet conquered the problem of each time a battery is charged it loses a little of its storage potential. On the other side, the good news is that I believe a web-browser-based device has a life cycle of at least six years. If the device can run a current web browser, it works for the student.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Glenn Meeks is president of Meeks Educational Technology located in Cary, N.C. He can be reached at gmeeks@meeksgeeks.com.

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