At the NJ Google Apps for Education Summit this month, we had the opportunity to briefly present and discuss the role and impact of Google Apps in K-12 Education with administrators and leaders from several districts. This post is the 2nd of 5 on Leadership and Google Apps in Your District.
Create an Equitable and Sustainable Ecosystem
Every district and school we work with for Google Apps, Chrome, and/or Play deployments has a population that spans some measure of socio-economic conditions. These socio-economic factors will play a part in funding technology.
As schools move to 1:1 programs, socio-economic differences across the student population can also weigh heavily on students and their families. Depending on how a district structures its 1:1 program, the district can create an equitable resource for all students or can further exasperate the digital divides. Poorly crafted 1:1 programs may also lack the financial stability to remain sustainable following the initial equipment purchase or first refresh cycle.
Schools can avoid these hazards with sound, long-term planning guided by a mandate for equitable opportunity and sustainability.
Here are few considerations.
- 1:1 Programs with BYOD can create a systemic bias based on family wealth, unless the district is willing and able to ensure all students have access to a default device that is comparable in form, function, performance, and reliability to those brought from home.
- 1:1 Programs in which families purchase specific devices are often a financial hardship for lower and middle-income families, particularly those with multiple children in the system.
- Districts should consider policies covering if and when students may use applications and resources not provided by the district for school work.
- Initial 1:1 program plans should look forward through at least 2 equipment refresh cycles, to ensure that funding is stable and equipment life cycles (reliability and usability) are consistent across classes and grades.
- 1:1 program funding should be a recurring operating expense rather than a discretionary budget item. Delaying purchases and refresh cycles reduces the effectiveness of the program across the student population and can result in higher overall costs. Fair market value (FMV) leases help even out annual costs and maintain refresh cycles
- 1:1 Programs with equipment and applications purchased by the district ensure all students have equal access to resources, but place the greatest potential financial burden on the district.
- Districts should consider policies related to “Technology Fees” or “1:1 Program Fees” as a means of mitigating 1:1 program costs. Districts should consider if and when to subsidize or waive fees based on financial need.
- Professional development for faculty and staff should be an ongoing process that develops skills and sets expectations for technology integration into the learning process.
- Districts should consider the ability to leverage technology in the classroom as a skill set on par with subject matter expertise and other teaching skills.
With a well-considered, long-term plan and a commitment to equity and sustainability, districts can design and execute 1:1 programs that provide all students with an equivalent learning environment. Schools will always need to deal with socio-economic differences across their populations, and it is impossible to ensure all things are equal. Solid leadership as districts adopt technologies and methods, however, can ensure equitable access and opportunities to learn.
into available grants and other sources of funding, these factors can also weigh heavily on the