A digital conversion is sweeping across Florida’s schools. With the classroom as its hub, this technology-driven new reality is expected to help students attain a greater skill level and educational performance while reaping greater enjoyment from their school experience. It’s also believed this digital conversion will help Florida narrow its “Talent Gap” – a crisis in human capital that has, over the years, hurt the state’s ability to develop a skilled and educated workforce.
Driven by this clarion call, school districts across the state are looking for commercial partners with the expertise, patience, flexibility and commitment to bring about this innovation – smoothly and within each district’s specific limitations.
To meet these requirements and help propel it further down the path toward the digital classroom, Jackson County School Board made a strategic decision to investment 2.25 million dollars to deploy more than 7,000 devices into the hands of their students. The multi-year project will be rolled out in three phases. By partnering with CDI, Jackson County has now successfully deployed the first phase which saw the deployment of 2,300 tablets in December of 2014. The next phase entails additional 2,800 devices deployed before the start of school next fall. When the third phase of the project is complete there will be 7,000 devices along with various software solutions deployed across 13 schools. The project also includes professional development programs for teachers and staff as well as a comprehensive set of hardware maintenance and support services.
A committee of dedicated educators led the search that explored as many devices as possible, even attending the National Education Convention to learn more about education-ready tablets.
The committee identified features for the ideal device: an education ready, fully functional and durable tablet with a cost-effective warranty and Windows 8.1 operating system. In addition, Jackson County School Board was seeking a partner that could deliver professional development for teachers and a post-sale level of service that would ensure these devices would be used to their full potential.
“It’s not the device alone that is going to make the students successful,” said Kilts. “It’s also the professional development we can offer our teachers that will provide them with the confidence, knowledge and ability to use the device to its highest capabilities for the benefit of all students.”
Although in-class computers have met some of the school board’s basic needs in the past, they didn’t give students the mobility or user-friendliness they’ve grown accustomed to outside of school.
Some of the primary challenges included:
- 7,300 students with desperate needs, knowledge base and experience using technology
- Unchartered territory for most administrators/IT personnel
- Fear of having a delicate product/technology that can damage or break easily
- Restricted to a Windows environment
- A population of dedicated teachers who are time-squeezed
- New curriculum
- Cost of technology, service/maintenance and professional development
- Classrooms that have had little technology to date
- Rural area/county
Through a careful and thorough research period, the Jackson County School Board made the discovery of the UNOBOOK® 2 in 1, a truly unique tablet designed to be water and dust resistant, with an easy-to-hold texturized surface and carrying handle. Powered with more than 8 hours of battery life and backed with a 3-Year CDI warranty which features CDI’s $0 Cost of Ownership guarantee, the UNOBOOK also features a pen-shaped stylus, thermal probe and lens cover for the camera that turns the tablet into a microscope.
“ We didn’t see anything else out there that looked like it would fit our deployment as well as these would. ”
— Elizabeth Walden
“We just fell in love with this device,” said Elizabeth Walden, Network Manager, Jackson County School Board. “We didn’t see anything else out there that looked like it would fit our deployment as well as these would.” It was also apparent to Jackson County School Board that CDI knew education and technology, and that the company had a service-oriented culture and strong work ethic. “Our committee was determined to use the technology to the max,” said Walden. “The last thing we wanted was to have our tablets underutilized, so that required a partner that would walk with us each step of the way. We found that in CDI, and more.”
The Expected Results
ABC local affiliate WMBB Channel 13 dispatches a television crew to cover the delivery and unpacking of devices. By the end of January 2015, 2,300 tablets were deployed and are actively being used in classrooms across the county. Teachers and students are whipping through the adaptation process with a contagious level of energy, engagement and appetite for learning. With each phase of deployment, CDI has taken a step-by-step approach to explaining to Jackson County School Board what to expect and how to prepare.
With the help of their teachers and reliable UNOBOOK tablet, students are now fully interactive with creative applications, digital presentations and fun educational activities that they can bring along with them wherever they go. And, with the help of CDI Computers, Jackson County School Board is confident that it will reach a 1:1 student-to-device ratio across its school network by 2016 and that its investment is well spent, directed and managed.
“We have to stop talking about a 21st century classroom and start implementing technology in the classroom today,” continued Kilts. “We are 15 years into the 21st century and it’s our duty to help prepare students for many jobs that have not yet been invented or created. Technology is evolving at lightning speed so we must find ways to work effectively, but promptly.”