Sometimes the only way to make progress is to leave something behind.
Thanks to “Learning On-the-Go,” an E-Rate pilot program launched by the Federal Communications Commission, the City School District of New Rochelle (CSDNR) is issuing 300 netbooks, 150 tablets, 500 smartphones and 100 broadband USB cards to more than 1,000 qualifying fourth- through ninth-graders.
CSDNR is one of 20 districts participating in the pilot, which supports off-campus wireless Internet connectivity for mobile learning devices. According to Dr. Christine Coleman, the district’s director of technology, the grant not only allows CSDNR to help the FCC with its study, it allows her to expand on an existing district mobile learning pilot aimed at low-income students who otherwise couldn’t afford computers at home.
For three years, CSDNR officials ran a one-to-one computing pilot in which they provided 120 netbooks to select fifth-grade students at Jefferson Elementary School, one of 11 schools in the district. Participants were English language learners who had performed poorly on reading and writing scores. The pilot’s goal was to determine if the technology would improve their scores — and it did.
For the E-Rate study, CSDNR offered the technology to low-income and special-needs students, as well as English language learners, at several schools. One hundred Jefferson Elementary fifth-graders were given netbooks with broadband USB cards; Trinity Elementary School and Columbus Elementary School fifth-graders were given smartphones with a data plan; and sixth- through eighth-graders at Isaac E. Young Middle School received a combination of tablets, netbooks and smartphones. All devices offered 24x7 filtered Internet connectivity.
“Putting the devices in the hands of our students continued their school day after the regular school day ended,” Coleman says.