5 Ways Idaho Schools Can Save Money and Improve Learning with Technology


Tom Luna, State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Governor "Butch" Otter

I’m a mother, wife, teacher, Idaho taxpayer, and educational technologist. One of my goals to help Idaho schools become more efficient at using technology, while also saving money. We have seen tremendous changes in how we access and use technology–everywhere except our schools. How can we bring our schools into the 21st century, saving money for Idaho taxpayers and allowing students to use and interact with technology in ways we take for granted? I have many ideas, but here are five.

Here are five of my many ideas for saving money and providing a powerful learning environment for Idaho students:

  1. Stop paying Novell, Microsoft, and other proprietary licenses. Use cost-cutting and more powerful platforms, such as Google Apps for Education and other free, open-source software. Schools would also be able to save money on hardware and personnel costs.
  2. Use free, open-source Learning Management Tools, such as Moodle, hosted by an off-site vendor (Moodlerooms), saving money on licensing and hardware/support costs.
  3. Cut back on any future expenditures by the Idaho Education Network (IEN) and use other technologies (cellular data networks) that would greatly reduce the cost of this money-drain. Create more interactive online courses that do not require students visit a video conferencing site. Allow students to attend classes in any location, using web conferencing technologies and other proven distance education strategies and tools. Make sure Idaho lawmakers really understand what good distance eduction looks like.
  4. Allow students to bring their own technology tools into the classroom and make sure ALL students have the use of an Internet-capable computer. Read my Google Chromebooks post and watch this helpful recorded webinar about using Google Chromebooks in Education:
  5. Open the Internet for students (after all, teachers can request this) and investigate the purpose of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). For more excellent information on student rights and misconceptions of the CIPA, read this article: Minors’ First Amendment Rights: CIPA & School Libraries

The best part about these cost-cutting measures is the possibility that we might then be able to upgrade our Idaho schools to provide more training for student and teacher use of technology, upgrade school and classroom computers, and create a school environment that more closely matches the real world. Ah . . . Students Would Come First!

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