Chromebooks, virtual reality OK’d by FDCSD board

Tariffs reason for hike in device price, Pearson says

Continuing with its 1:1 initiative, the Fort Dodge Community School District will add hundreds of new Google Chromebooks for its students to use next year.

The FDCSD board approved the purchase of 700 Chromebooks at its meeting Monday night.

The cost per device is $350.13. The total cost is $245,091.

That price includes the Google Management License required to manage each device, according to Jeremy Pearson, the district’s supervisor of information technology.

The Chromebooks will be purchased through the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy technology budget.

Pearson said the price per device has increased by $39.43 from last year.

“In researching the reasons for the cost increase,” Pearson said. “The two main factors contributing to the increase are the tariffs on import goods and demand of the components from Intel.”

The district officially introduced its 1:1 initiative in 2017. The 1:1 means that there is at least one computer for every student in the school.

“This is the end of our official second year of 1:1,” Pearson said. “Our seniors last year got the most seasoned devices. The seniors this year got new devices.”

He said the number of repairs on the Chromebooks has been less than originally thought.

“We haven’t had the repairs of the devices just not holding up,” Pearson said. “The defective devices or devices that don’t last are almost non-existent.”

About three students per period work at the help desk at Fort Dodge Senior High to repair devices.

“All the Chromebooks, district-wide, are sent there for repair,” Pearson said. “We shuffle around twice a day from all the elementaries, deliver and pick up. The kids do a great job.”

The board also approved virtual reality labs.

“These are immersive virtual reality field trips,” Pearson said. “The lab is on a mobile cart.”

Steph Anderson, director of elementary education services, said the labs would provided at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels.

One cart will be moved between the four elementary buildings.

“These are the up and coming thing,” Anderson said.

Pearson described the experience as “full emergence.”

“You wear them, you get sound,” Pearson said. “You are flying into the heart. You are going to Mars. These are full-on virtual reality field trips. It takes our goggles a step further.”

The cost of the 3 labs is just less than $12,000.

Anderson said the labs would be purchased through categorical dollars.

Pearson said the virtual reality carts will be ready for next school year.

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