At iPrep Academy in Miami, every student is issued a laptop. Think of it as the future for every school.
“Textbooks are being phased out,” said Sylvia Diaz, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools' assistant superintendent.
Her boss, Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho, who is also principal of iPrep Academy, is a digital learning evangelist.
“The convergence from a traditional textbook to digital content is a must,” Carvalho says. “This is no longer a question of whether or not this will be done, the question is, when will we have this done.”
So even if you don’t know the difference between a rhombus and a school bus, you can see the handwriting on the wall: the Miami-Dade school district is extending WiFi coverage to every school, trying to put laptops or tablets in every student’s hands.
“They seek information and they manage information very, very different from the way we did, we now need to create education environments that replicate, mimic their lifestyle,” Carvalho said, sitting in a classroom at iPrep, amidst students working on their laptops, some of them sitting on couches and bean bags.
Now, just in time for Black Friday shopping madness, the Miami-Dade schools are launching this website: wifi.dadeschools.net. They call it BYOD, or bring your own device. It’s a place for parents to go for shopping tips.
“So this is like a 2 for 1, buy a device, satisfy the holiday desires of your kids but also empower them with a tool that they can use in school as we launch BYOD district-wide,” Carvalho said.
Once you go to the website, click on “minimum specifications.” You’ll find a table that lists the different types of devices on the market, and if you scroll down you’ll see a table that shows which devices can handle the programs that are currently used in the Miami-Dade school district.
“I mean if you want to buy an iPad, here’s some information about the type of iPad you should be buying, or an Android, or a Windows device,” said Diaz.
Digital learning for all is the model, and getting there is expensive but no longer a dream. The superintendent said the bond issue passed by voters last year will help buy about 140,000 laptops for families that can’t afford them, helping bridge the digital divide.