October 20, 2016
Larger schools with more resources are increasingly able to upgrade their education technology systems and create a 1:1 learning environment (a laptop for each student). Smaller school districts such as LaCrosse aspire to do the same. “We want to make sure that our students have the same opportunities that a student in a larger school receives,” said Jeff Gates, the Technology Director at LaCrosse. The district’s outdated technology infrastructure was proving to be a major challenge in meeting this objective of preparing students to have competitive advantage in an increasingly digital world, both while in school and after graduating.
Furthermore, while the LaCrosse School District’s small class size allowed students to have one-to-one, personal contact with teachers, it was difficult to have in-depth classroom discussions and organize group projects. Gates understood that providing a laptop for each student and creating 1:1 learning could effectively create a “global” and collaborative learning environment; it would enable LaCrosse students to move past the limits of a small classroom. At the same time, 1:1 learning would empower students to become more digitally adept, creative and competitive.
The cost of upgrading the school district’s technology systems was a big constraint. Gates recounts: “We looked at increasing the size of our computer labs and getting a laptop for each student, but it was cost-prohibitive.” Additionally, while LaCrosse had previously purchased MobyMax, a comprehensive and adaptive digital education software package, their aging computer equipment had prevented them from using the software effectively.
“eduGear was great through the whole ordering process. The ability to test a Chromebook before purchase was awesome. Also being flexible with the shipment to match my schedule was incredibly helpful.”
Under Gate’s direction, the LaCrosse School District began working towards 1:1 learning using Chromebooks. LaCrosse had previously purchased computers from CDI (eduGear’s parent company) and there were a number of factors that led Gates to choose eduGear as the education technology solution provider to meet their goals.
Since balancing cost with functionality was their primary challenge, eduGear’s affordable pricing was a major deciding factor. LaCrosse was able to test the Chromebook’s functionality by using eduGear’s 30-day free demo offer. This pre-sales trial helped them evaluate how well the Chromebooks would work in the actual environment where they would be used. Furthermore, according to Gates, “the fact that eduGear offered the MobyMax subscription was a real big seller for us.” Available options such as the CB33 Smart Charge Cart also played a role in LaCrosse choosing eduGear to provide them with a complete solution to meet their needs.
The district initially bought 20 HP Chromebooks which when combined with MobyMax worked really well for them. On observing how deeply engaged a group of LaCrosse elementary school students became with the new Chromebooks, Gates remarked, “the students didn’t like me asking them questions about how they liked the Chromebooks while they were using them.”
Since June 2016, LaCrosse has deployed 55 eduGear Chromebooks across the district and reached their goal of creating 1:1 learning for their students.