A sure sign of 21st century learning is seen in schools moving toward universal computer availability.
Every student will receive some kind of portable computing device in the 2018-2019 school year in the Wausau School District. The portable computer devices may be IPads or Chromebooks.
The goal set by the Wausau district administration will cost millions of dollars to accomplish. More than $14 million is allocated in the district’s long range technology plan over the next three years. The estimate includes new devices and upgrades in all areas of technology for the district. This includes phones, servers, printers, and wireless networks.
However, despite administrator’s pointing out that the price tag includes all services, there is no doubt that loaning the devices to students is expensive.
District leaders say that the success of an iPad and Chromebook pilot program put in place over the past couple of school years, at a cost of about $1.2 million, along with a rising tide of national-level research, leads them to believe that the benefits are worth the price. Students will need devices on which to work, gain access to information on the Internet, get digital lessons and communicate with teachers.
“I think what we’re seeing is that we’re living in the digital age, and it’s where everything is going,” said Thom Hahn, Wausau’s director of secondary education. “There’s a shift in what we’re doing. In the past, teachers have been the purveyors of all knowledge and wisdom. Today, that knowledge is out there. Students have access to it 24/7. The teacher is becoming the facilitator of learning rather than the purveyor of information.”
The iPad pilot project started in the 2012-13 school year. The district distributed the touch-screen tablet devices to eighth-graders at Horace Mann and John Muir middle schools and to all students at Franklin Elementary School. The district expanded the program to include 800 Chromebooks last school year, devices that were given to high school freshmen.