Classroom Technology – Where does the funding come from?

Classroom technology is great… but where do we get the money to fund the educational technology? I would like to have a class set of laptops for my Grade 7 and 8 students to use: 

4 Reasons why I would like to have a class set of laptops

  1. I would like to provide my students with the right tools at the right time: I want them to have access to the internet, word processing and online collaboration tools following the natural flow of the lesson and (differentiated) individual student learning (as opposed to when the over-booked computer lab is available.)
  2. Pedagogically appropriate classroom technology can catalyze  learning in the classroom.  I understand that we can do great teaching and learning without the use of classroom technology. After all, great learning can happen whether we use a chalkboard, whiteboard, flip chart paper, overhead projector, powerpoint presentation, an interactive whiteboard, or LCD data projector. But I also know we live in a digital world and technology helps us to work and think at the speed of thought. (We could spend time copying text from the board, or we could  spend the time focusing on higher-order thinking skills by making jot notes on the handout.)
  3. Students need to learn and apply critical thinking skills within a digital context. As teachers we help socialize students in the classroom: appropriate behaviours, dealing with conflict in appropriate manners, etiquette and life lessons. How is the digital world any different? WHY DON’T WE TYPE IN CAPITALS? What do you do when you get cyber-bullied. How is online communication similar or different from real-world communication?
  4. Technology can help close the gender gap. There is an observed gender gap in our school system: girls typically outperform boys. One theory is that school caters to learning styles more commonly found in girls. For example, girls (stereo)typically read novels and like stories; boys (stereo)typically read expository texts, non-fictional short blurbs. Online reading and writing is often not valued in school (i.e. texting, reading for specific information – like unlocking an iPhone or finding a cheat to a video game.) Novel studies usually are. 

How much will a class set of laptops cost? Where will the money come from?

In order to have a class set of laptops that could connect to our school’s network, we’re looking at around $500 per laptop. $500 x 30 students = $15,000. Plus taxes, set up costs, etc. Let’s say $20,000. 

So, where will this money come from? (And where will it continue to come from in future years to cover replacement costs and wear-and-tear?)

Here’s what I’ve brainstormed so far. (Not all options may be viable.)

  1. Win the lotto.
  2. Get funding from the existing school / school board budget. 
  3. Apply for funding through grants (Government / Non-Government Organizations)
  4. Seek out Corporate Donations
  5. Save up my money and buy it on my own
  6. Find another stream of income to make the money and buy the laptops on my own.
  7. Find a benefactor 

Things to consider in my quest for a class set of laptops: 

1. Controversies surrounding the source of funding (i.e. Corporate funding with strings attached)

In April 2009, Toronto District School Board trustees voted 13 to 5 in favour of accepting $100,000 from Future Shop under the condition that the two high school computer labs be painted in Future Shop colours. 

This decision has raised some controversy around the branding of our learning spaces. The arguments run along the following lines:

  • Computer budgets are slashed ( by 22 per cent) and TDSB is on an eight-year replacement cycle for the computers currently in our schools. Therefore we need the money.  
  • Money is nice, but at what expense? How will explicit or implicit branding effect our children? Where do we draw the line between corporate sponsors and the branding of our schools?

2. Having a class set of laptops could create inequity between classes or schools

With budget cutbacks, more and more classroom supplies are provided for by individual teachers. (Consider Erin Gruwell of Freedom Writer notoriety who purchased books out of her own pocket and arranged her own guest speakers.)

It’s one thing to buy a class set of novels. It’s another thing to buy a class set of laptops. Does having a class set of laptops create inequity?

If one Grade 8 class used laptops everyday and the other Grade 8 class didn’t, which class would you want to be in? Having a class set of laptops could create a division between haves and have-nots and create tension between students, staff and parents.  (Of course, a solution would be to get a class set of laptop on a sign-out system so that individual teachers could get them for different periods of the day or different days of the week.)

We also have to look at who is getting access to the laptops? Is this another case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting left behind? For example, schools in more affluent neighbourhoods typically have more funds supplemented by the school / parent council communities.

SMART GOAL: Get a class set of laptops ($20,000) by January 2011

By January 2011, find a way to get all students in my literacy classes (Language Arts / History / Geography / Drama) unlimited and individual access in class to the internet and computer technology to facilitate collaborative and differentiated instruction (wikis, google docs, blogs, SMART notebook.) (Cash equivalent of $20,000 to buy a class set of laptops)


How often do your students use computers in the classroom? Does anyone use laptops in the classroom? Thoughts?

8 thoughts on “Classroom Technology – Where does the funding come from?”

  1. A neighbouring board to ours has school sets of laptops on a cart with a wireless printer. This way wherever the cart is, students can print to it. The cart itself plugs into a LAN line and students are off and running online. I did my practice teaching with this board and remember vividly the difficulties with certain machines not connecting and the lack of technological experience on behalf of the teachers in charge. I ended up fixing the problems during my placement as a student teacher. Very costly, but very effective when they work. I suppose a dedicated set in your room would be much better. Students wold also learn to troubleshoot the problems.

  2. I guess that will always be the problem with technology: great when it works, but a pain when it doesn’t. Next year I’m at a school that has wireless, so it will be interesting to see what happens and how well the laptops perform with a bunch of wireless signals bouncing around each other.

  3. I have been in systems where they have the check out system with laptops on a cart. It was nice, but the system needs to be tweaked. If someone didn’t plug in the cart the laptop batteries would be dead. We didn’t have a printer. The other comment on wireless printers sounds great. With technology you always need a tech guy on hand which is more money for salaries. Our system is cutting all unnecessary positions as much as possible. This idea sounds great in theory. I would love to get them and be able to try to utilze them.

  4. Have you had any luck with this? I am currently looking for grants to get a laptop cart for my classroom and was hoping that you have had some success and could give me some pointers. Right now I feel like I am finding a lot of grants that either will not apply to me or are much to little for my needs.

    Thanks!!!

    1. Hey Wyvern67, no luck yet. We’ve looked at a few grants, but they’re mostly for professional development of teachers to use resources with specific clauses stating that the purchase of equipment is not allowed. Good luck finding grant funding.

  5. You got an excellent idea here. I agree that having laptops for each student will be great because it would be easier for the students to understand the topic and they will have unlimited access to different tools that they can use to improve their skills which they can apply when looking for a job in the future. I hope and pray that you’ll get the budget for the laptops.

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