One alternative to a one-to-one technology initiative (one iPad for every student in grades 6 through 12) is what’s known as BYOD (bring your own device), which encourages (and eventually, in many cases, requires) each student to bring his or her own wireless device to school for classroom use. This is the path taken in the Edina Public Schools, which scrapped an earlier one-to-one program in favor of a BYOD approach.
According to Edina’s director of media and technology services, Steve Buettner, “One-to-one computing is financially unsustainable.” This is a significant admission coming from an administrator in affluent Edina.
You can read about Edina’s BYOD program, and more about BYOD in general, in an online article from EdTech, “One-to-One or BYOD? Districts Explain Thinking Behind Student Computing Initiatives.”
A BYOD program would not be uncontroversial, since it would shift the expense of providing a device from the school district ($337,000 a year for three years for the lease of 2,700 devices) to individual families ($379.00 for the iPad2, but less for other options). Some students will not have, or will not be able to afford their own devices. School districts with BYOD programs have addressed this issue in various ways. Most districts have purchased devices to have on hand for students without their own; Edina has partnered with Best Buy to make purchase of devices more affordable for students; and some schools have even made grants available to students who need financial help to purchase a mobile device. And as the market for the technology matures, the price will almost certainly come down, putting it within reach of more students.
“As devices become cheaper, students who will bring their own devices will become even more ubiquitous in schools,” [Edna’s] Buettner predicts. “We might have to help the other 30 percent with devices from the district, but that’s better than having to cover the entire 100 percent.”