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Re: [school-discuss] student:computer - studies to reference?


Of course the student:computer ratio (or in general access to computers in schools) is the most obvious point.

Perhaps some other ones are:
1) What teachers are actually interested in using computers in their courses?
2) Of these teachers, which ones actually have course material to support this kind of teaching or do they have to invent this? (ie. notes, handouts, websites, etc. etc.)

3) What software will be used in this assumed, cross curricular, development (ie. using computers to study subjects other than computers)?

Would this be general purpose software (ie. web browsers, word processors, presentation software, etc.) or subject specific (ie. simulations in sciences; role playing in history, etc.)

My point would be that it is too easy to put too much emphasis on hardware aquisition and too little on the other requirements: teacher training and support, curriculum support materials, administrative support, etc.

Once you have a reliable computer system (assumed to be a thin client solution if you have all software that will work), it basically 'disappears'... it just becomes a tool that students use.

In our small school of 200, we have 50 computers in two groups... one lab, one library. We also have a smaller pod in IA lab, and computers in classrooms. We probably approach a 3:1 ratio... all fat client. (DeepFreeze, Ghost). The main issue is that we have space in each of these locations to handle the largest class in the school. This means children get a computer to use at least two periods per day (of 6).

This means that in your physical plant, you will need locations for this kind of full class scheduling, as well as the in-class space to place these devices. Computers in classrooms are more problematical since one then has to adapt to this (ie. a more 'learning center' approach). I don't particularly care for this at the high school level, and don't make use of it.

So there are lots of issues that one should think about in deployment (and also in budgeting for hardware, software, support materials, release time, division trainers, etc.)

Les Richardson Open Admin for Schools

On Sun, 8 Oct 2006, Matt Oquist wrote:

Note: I'm also posting to k12osn and k12opensource; sorry for any

I'm on the newly-formed school tech planning committee in my
community, and at the second committee meeting I discussed the idea
that there's a tipping-point at which access to technology naturally
snowballs into increasing technology integration. (There's a bit of
the "if you build it they will come" thinking in here.) I asserted
that I believed studies had been done on such data points as the range
of student:computer ratios that define such a tipping-point.

The committee chairman (a school board member) insightfully asked if
I could find out about such studies and report back at our next
meeting -- so now I'm asking all of you. I've done some googling and
I'll do some more, but what studies (formal and informal, but I'm
looking for more than just opinions) do you know of that communicate
concrete results such as (NOTE: I'M MAKING THIS UP as an EXAMPLE!):
 "Moving from a 10:1 student:computer ratio to a 2:1 ratio is 75%
 more likely to result in a 20% increase in math standardized test
 scores than moving instead to a 5:1 ratio."

A study with results like that would be outstanding, of course, but
I'll be pleasantly shocked to find one. What has actually been done?
What more do we have than anecdotal evidence of the sort of
tipping-point that I described?

I'm pretty sure I snagged the phrase "tipping point" from one of the
slides in Daniel Howard's presentation to the CIO of Atlanta Public
Schools on their case study at Morris Brandon Elementary School.
Here's what he said:
 Tipping point: must have at least 5 PCs for teachers to fully
 integrate into instruction, more is better for most teachers

I'll follow up with Daniel to find out how many students those
5 (LTSP) PCs are covering...but what have the rest of you experienced
in your own schools?

With 1:1 as the assumed goal, what ratio will give us the best
bang-for-the-buck along the way?


Open Source Software Engineering Consultant