McKinney, Texas - At their May board meeting Tuesday night, the McKinney ISD Board of Trustees approved an expansion of the district’s One to the World instructional technology program to include a laptop for every student in grades 3–12.
Since 2014, MISD has issued a MacBook to every ninth grade student for use throughout their four years of high school. Now, students third grade and up will receive a laptop that will be refreshed on a five year cycle. When third graders reach eighth grade, the district will issue them a new MacBook that they’ll use until they graduate.
“I am thankful that we have such a supportive and forward-thinking board of trustees,” said MISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel. “Without their support and valuable input, initiatives like this would not be possible, and their approval is just another reason McKinney ISD continues to provide a quality education for all students. It is my sincere belief that initiatives such as this help to level the playing field and provide opportunities for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, thereby allowing for a greater chance at success.”
While the current at-home learning implementation has placed student technology needs in the spotlight, MISD was already looking toward an expansion of the technology initiative prior to the arrival of COVID-19.
Lack of access to technology impacts learning well beyond the dining room table. With technology so deeply interwoven in education today, the move to a MacBook for every third through 12th grader helps teachers remain at the leading edge of instructional practices and expands learning opportunities for students in today’s blended learning setting.
“Blended learning ensures that active, engaged, collaborative learning is happening in both online and offline environments to empower all students,” said MISD Director of Instructional Technology Lara Lindsey. “Personalized technology is the vehicle that makes a blended learning environment move forward. Although new devices are exciting, this expansion is less about the ‘stuff’ and more about a change in our teaching and learning practices to include the right tools at the right time.”
The technology expansion provides equitable technology for all MISD students, prepares them for the blended learning model that they will likely face in higher education, and also prepares them for a global work environment that requires the ability to perform one’s job both in a traditional brick and mortar setting as well as a virtual one.
"We want our students to develop a skillset that promotes self-initiative, creativity and collaboration in both in-person and virtual environments. That is what the workforce of the future will require of them,” said McDaniel.
Funding for the expansion will come from two sources: 2016 Bond Program Investment Interest Earnings and 2016 Bond Program Completed Project Savings. The expanded program will include a five year usage cycle and an initial deployment of approximately 13,800 MacBooks.
The district plans to use technology already on hand to expand availability in Pre-K through second grade classrooms. Campuses will assign iPads and laptops to each kindergarten through first grade classroom, while second grade classrooms will have a computer available for each student that will be stored in carts that remain in the classroom.
MISD Chief Information Officer David Spann said that the technology department will set up Pre-K through second grade classrooms over the summer and that the plan is for them be ready the first day of school in August.
“We will begin deploying laptops to ninth graders when school starts and continue until all students have their laptop assigned,” Spann said.
Third graders will not be carrying MacBooks back and forth between school and home; rather, campuses will keep them safely stored at the end of the day and will phase in the process of taking them home in fourth grade after students have had a year of experience using them.
“McKinney ISD has long been considered a model district in terms of innovative programs and teaching techniques,” said McDaniel. “If the pandemic of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we have to be prepared for a multitude of instructional models, most of which require the use of technology, to some degree. This technology expansion is going to allow us to deliver the most effective, forward-thinking instruction that we can deliver—pandemic or not—for all of our students.”