Recent news in CFgear’s home state of South Dakota is a bit grim for the to-date attempts at decreasing the digital divide. It was reported that funds allocated for the Laptop Initiative, a program aimed at providing incentive money for school districts to initiate one-to-one laptop programs for South Dakota high school students, are now under scrutiny.
The vision of a laptop for every high school student is indeed a powerful one. But it doesn’t come without a large price tag and Education Department Officials are being asked to supply insight into exactly where funds to support such an expense are coming from.
Having a feasible, hardware-based solution of our own, CFear supports most any attempts at decreasing the digital divide evident in education today. Yet, with the latest reality that funding for education is obviously limited and lately even scrutinized, we’d like to once again remind folks of our simple and less-than-forty dollar-per-student solution.
By issuing intelligently preloaded flash drives to high school students, classrooms can operate digitally and in a manner offering equal access to all due to the low barrier to entry cost of the flash drive hardware. Of course, computers will still be required to access the preloaded content, which depending on the architecture of the preload can incorporate all the classroom material as well as links to online resources aimed at enhancing the learning opportunity. However, with education-based flash drive solutions that serve as a portable container for all required software applications, schools merely need to invest in scaled-down PC’s or laptops for their students. This is because most of the applications and activity is being conducted on the flash drive itself with the computer serving more as a tool with which to work on preloaded assignments, etc.
CFgear modestly admits even as powerful a solution as the preloaded flash drives are, it is not the cure all for decreasing the digital divide. With a PC environment in the classroom, students would have the opportunity to tote their flash drive home and continue working their files should they have a home-based computer. Or they could also go to most any public library and utilize the drive in the same manner. However, we understand there are other variable at play among the percentage of those not able to have equal access to a digitally-based school assignment. Things such as internet access at home or even the transportation (both cost and logistics) to a public library.
The reality is there is not a one-size fits all solution in the attempt to bridge the digital divide. We’re thankful that South Dakota, home to CFgear headquarters, is at least making an effort to set the bar high and encourage other State’s to follow suit with classroom technology aimed at enhancing the educational experience for the youth of our Nation. Of course, our wish is that we can collaborate with Education leaders in America to implement feasible, powerful preloaded flash drives into as many schools in need of a proven bridge over the digital divide.