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Madison Joins Other Urban Districts in Embracing 1-to-1 Computing

The board of the 27,000-student Madison, Wis., School District approved on Monday night a $28 million plan to put digital devices in the hands of almost all its students, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

The initiative, part of a five-year "Information and Technology Plan," will eventually include notebook computers that all 6th through 12th graders are allowed to bring home, school-only digital tablets for 2nd through 5th graders, and ten digital tablets to be shared in each kindergarten and first grade classroom. The 6-1 board vote in favor of the plan came after Madison officials revised their original proposal to give kindergartners and first-graders their own devices. 

"I view our vote tonight as signifying our serious commitment to equip our students with the technology know-how they'll need in order to graduate career-, knowledge- and community-ready," board president Ed Hughes told the State Journal.

The Madison district's technology plan, spearheaded by Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, includes several pieces:

  • 1-to-1 student computing with an emphasis on "access to information, increased collaboration, and multiple forms of student expression of learning."
  • Staff computing including mobile devices for teachers and school administrators.
  • School learning spaces focused on flexible environments "that work for individual, small group, and large group instruction," and are equipped with "the right technology for collaborative projects and creative problem-solving."
  • Network and server upgrades
  • Improved student information systems
  • Regular professional development
  • Technical support for students, staff, and families that focuses on "authentic engagement."

After a series of high-profile missteps in Los Angeles and elsewhere, some districts, including the 354,000-student Miami-Dade County public schools, appeared skittish about jumping into the 1-to-1 fray.  But Monday's vote in Madison marks the second big step forward for a major initiative in as many weeks; last Thursday, Education Week reported on the Houston Independent School District's efforts to begin distributing laptops to all high school students.

Follow @BenjaminBHerold and @EdWeekEdTech for the latest news on ed-tech policies, practices, and trends

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