Friday, November 16, 2007

1-to-1 Wireless Thin Clients in Lemon Grove

eSchool News:

The district has provided access for all students, with a 2-to-1 student-to-computer ratio in grades K-5, and a 1-to-1 ratio for grades 6-8. All students and teachers are issued a wireless e-pad in these middle grades, and students are given broadband internet access at home.

Including the e-pad devices and broadband access, the cost is just under $300 per student, per year, over a five-year acquisition cycle.

So far, the district reportedly has experienced improved student and teacher attitudes toward technology and an increase in student motivation. Attendance has increased, too, which, according to LaGace, has resulted in $100,000 in additional state funding for average daily attendance. Language-arts scores also have increased.

The e-pad is a web-based thin client with no hard drive. Because it doesn't have a hard drive, it can be ruggedized--meaning it can withstand a hard impact, such as a fall of four to six feet. Students experience a simplified interface, as well as textbooks embedded on the chip.

With textbooks on the e-pad, students can view animation and links, and they can read and hear in both English and Spanish. However, because of the need to view textbooks on the devices, Lemon Grove spent a little extra to have e-pads with a 10.4-inch screen.

The district worked with Interlink Electronics to develop its customized solution.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. You know what would be really cool? If there was a frickin' magazine or web site that actually covered this stuff in any detail.


JuneA said...

Wow, very cool development at Lemon Grove. Tom, do you think inexpensive, limited devices like the thin-client, e-pad are the way to go to increase computing access in public schools?

Tom Hoffman said...

I'd really like to see the costs broken down more. It is especially tricky to say in this case because this program includes high speed internet connectivity to the home (as I read it). So it isn't clear about how the $1,500 they're planning on spending over the projected 5 year lifetime of the device is broken down.

This kind of think client is probably the way to do if you want to maintain strict control over the working environment even when the kids are working from home. Whether or not thin client laptops or a cheap standalone laptop (XO, Classmate, etc) will work out better in terms of total cost of ownership is an interest question.

But, yes, overall, I don't think the future is in giving every kid a $1000 laptop. If that model was really viable, we'd have it by now.

Another interesting question, do schools TCO calculations take into account getting more funding due to increased attendance as mentioned in the article?