Board challenges technology sector to create affordable options for families
The Peel District School Board has worked with a vendor to increase equity of access to technology through a low-cost tablet device. For $55, parents can purchase a basic tablet for student use through the board’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) parent resource page at www.peelschools/byod. The arrangement supports the board’s fall roll-out of BYOD in all schools. The board will also encourage others in the technology sector to come forward and help create a menu of affordable options for families.
Says Director of Education Tony Pontes, “Today’s students are already technology leaders. If we reflect that use in their classroom learning experience, research tells us we will increase engagement which leads to improved student success. That is the point of BYOD in Peel schools—the ability to “power up” learning, and to help us inspire success, confidence and hope.”
A vendor selected to provide tablets for Peel schools will also make the device available to parents. The Filla Sapphire 7 is a seven-inch touch screen android tablet that provides basic functionality for student use.
Notes Pontes, “Equity of access is a key priority for us and we have heard from some parents that the cost is a barrier. While teachers will plan assuming that not every student will bring a personally owned device to school, many parents want their child to have a device to support learning at home and at school. Our BYOD parent guide provides a ‘which device to choose’ chart to help with back to school shopping, but we wanted to go beyond that so we sourced a low-cost device that brings a basic tablet in reach for most of our families.”
Available online through a variety of vendors, the board worked with VIG Solutions to offer parents the ability to purchase the Filla Sapphire tablet directly at a lower net cost. Parents can go to www.peelschools.org/BYOD and click on “Choose Devices” to order the tablet directly for $55 plus shipping and handling. The board does not benefit from the sale, does not endorse the tablet and will not be involved in service or product issues. A product review by the board’s instructional technology resource teachers is also posted online.
“Clearly, as a board, we are not in the business of selling technology. All we are doing is facilitating the purchase of an affordable basic device. We see this as part of our role—to help our families in need cross the digital divide with a menu of affordable options,” says Brian Woodland, director of communications and community relations. “The tech sector makes huge profits—and that’s fine—but we believe these vendors and manufacturers share our responsibility to level the playing field and make affordable options available to those in our community—to close the gap between the have and have-not with technology. In fact, we encourage other companies with low-cost devices—from netbooks to notebooks to Internet service—to come forward and we will add them to our menu. Our students, our families and our society all will benefit.”
Media contact: Brian Woodland, Director of Communications & Community Relations Support Services, 905-890-1010 ext. 2812 or firstname.lastname@example.org