Indiana educational technology officials are moving forward with their goal of building a computer-to-student ratio of 1-to-1.
But unlike other states, which have tried to accomplish that goal with laptop computers, Indiana has chosen desktop computing as a cheaper, more viable alternative. For the cost of one laptop computer, which is typically $1,000, Indiana has been able to buy three desktop units, says Michael Huffman, the state superintendent’s special assistant for technology.
Indiana has supplied desktop computers for about $375 each for every student in 12 classrooms around the state in English, writing, and biology classes, under the 1-to-1 program started in 2004. In four years, state officials hope to equip all high schools with a computer for each student in core subjects, Huffman says.
The state saw no increase in the portion of educational technology funding that is distributed to districts under the Technology Plan Grant, spending $2.5 million for this school year and the previous school year for technology initiatives, he says. Such efforts may be able to get more money because the legislature is considering a plan to budget $7.5 million for the next two school years.
Despite financial difficulties, which include a $595 million state budget deficit for fiscal 2005, Indiana high schools also plan to continue offering end-of-course assessments in an online format. Started in 2003, the program—which offers online tests in algebra and English—proved popular, according to Huffman.
All schools offering end-of-course assessments in Algebra 1 and 11th grade English had the option of using online tests in spring 2004. The state administered about 109,000 online exams.
Indiana plans to add online-testing options in biology and Algebra 2 for the 2005-06 school year.
Feedback from the online testing has been positive, Huffman says. He points out that many teachers prefer the online option because it returns results much faster than traditional testing methods, allowing them to adjust their teaching more quickly to the needs of their students.