Email, Catherine Crago, Aug. 7, 2013

3:33 pm

I did not say that today some schools in AISD have no outlets per classroom.


I was talking about the survey conducted some years ago of 5 million square feet of Central Texas schools, a survey in which I was involved. Responding to a board member who suggested that school infrastructure is not a barrier to STEM education, and that infrastructure funds should simply be spent on a computer and software for each child in a classroom, I said something like 'Some schools have great broadband access and others don't. Some schools are BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) because the school doesn't have the broadband infrastructure for the kids to go through the school network at the same time.


Several years ago I was part of a survey of 5 million square feet of Central Texas schools. You might be surprised at the variance in infrastructure between schools in the same ISD. The survey showed that some schools with 10 outlets per classroom and other schools reported .5 outlets per classroom.' I asked the AISD representative in the room, 'Is that still true?' She nodded yes. Because she represents AISD, I think most of us inferred that the observation I shared from the several-years-old study is true for AISD, especially since she had just finished talking about the traits and numbers of portables in the district.  But her nod could have referred to Central Texas in general.


Today, in the "digital learning" era, a wrinkle in reporting the outlets available for students and computers, is that we must account for classroom needs for standard items such as projectors, teaching server, clocks, pencil sharpeners, etc.  After those needs are met, it may be that there are in effect ".5" available outlets for students computers in a classroom. We just don't know.


The major, undisputed point is that many older Central Texas classrooms lack sufficient infrastructure to handle several computers in addition to the teacher's need for equipment. In the last year, I have heard anecdotally from several teachers and administrators that depending on the classroom, they may need to conduct computer learning in different rooms, or make sure tablets are fully charged before bringing them into class because the students can't use them and charge them at the same time in the class.


In short, the physical infrastructure of some classrooms is inadequate for comprehensive digital literacy and STEM learning because, at the most basic level, some classrooms lack enough electrical outlets.