Mobile Computing

Small California District Grows Into 1-to-1 Program

A school district in the Central Valley of California is gradually working its way toward a district-wide 1-to-1 program.

The recent acquisition of 1,000 Chromebooks means the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District in Newman, CA will put devices in the hands of every student in grades 1-8. Students at Orestimba High School, one of the district's nine schools, had already received computers earlier in the school year.

District Superintendent Randy Fillpot said the gradual distribution of devices as they became available and could be configured had made for some interesting logistical challenges.

"We had issued about 10 Chromebooks per classroom in grades 3-8," Fillpot said in a report for "Teachers would find that it was difficult planning things where they needed 30 at a time. I think this will solve a logistics issue."

Another interesting challenge Fillpot pointed out that he had not expected: The evolution in students' technological expertise. For instance, a teacher who might have taught students how to use a webcam and keyboard one year might find students in the same grade the following year already have developed those skills.

"We have very creative students," Fillpot said. "Teachers know that what they taught this year may not be what they are going to teach next year. I think getting them devices earlier opens a lot of doors for them later on."

District Finance Director Caralyn Mendoza said providing devices for each of the district's nearly 3,000 students cost about $200 apiece, a cost that was eased by a California state program to provide technology to all schools.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.