Education Technology

Scott Woods-Fehr / Flickr Creative Commons

The state is asking a judge to take another look at his decision to void the $60 million Idaho Education Network broadband contract.

Mobile devices are traditionally considered a nuisance in schools. But a Portland startup is developing a way to turn students’ cell phones into classroom tools.

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A company installing wireless Internet networks in Idaho public schools says it will reduce the contract's price tag amid pressure from lawmakers who question the deal.

The Spokesman-Review reported Friday that Tennessee-based Education Networks of America and the State Department of Education agreed the company will be paid only for schools it connects with Wi-Fi system, not get a flat fee.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Shelby Harris’s first period is not a typical seventh grade class. The students come in, get laptops and go to work.

“Without any instruction from me,” Harris says. “They know exactly what path they’re on. And they just work. It’s amazing.”

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

About 120 high school students are staying in the Boise State dorms, taking classes, and eating in the student union. And that’s going on at more than 900 other campuses across the country including at Idaho State and University of Idaho.

It’s part of a program to help kids from low-income families prepare for college. It’s called Upward Bound, and is part of the federal TRiO programs. Even though the program has been around for nearly 50 years, high school students are learning new technology during their summer at Boise State.

The Class

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Department of Education has announced 11 schools will share $3 million for technology pilot projects.

Eighty-one schools applied for the grants. The requests totaled nearly $20 million.

Here are the schools that get the money and what they plan to do with it.

Keyboard, computer, tech
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A Boise software company Wednesday will announce a cash infusion from investors totaling $2.5 million. Silverback Learning Solutions hasn’t been doing business two years yet, but CEO Jim Lewis says its sales total more than a million dollars and it has 20 full time employees. It also has one unusual partner that gets 8 percent of profits; the Blaine County School District. Lewis retired from his job as Blaine County’s superintendent to form the company.

facebook.com/PathwaysInTech

This week the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation announced it would give up to $5 million to create a new school that would be unique in Idaho.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA) is one of Idaho’s 48 charter schools and one of seven online charters run by for-profit companies. As we've reported this week IDVA is Idaho’s largest public school, bigger than most of the state’s school districts. Idaho taxpayers fund it and it’s managed by K-12 Inc. headquartered in Virginia.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

There’s a room off the Bell family kitchen in Kuna where alphabet letters march above the fireplace and multiplication tables hang on cubicle dividers.  This is where 6th grader Wyatt Bell watches a video lecture on algebra. He’s one of about 3,000 students of Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA).

ischoolscampus.com/screenshot

Paul Elementary in south-central Idaho celebrated a new technology contract Friday afternoon. It brings an Apple iPad to every student and teacher, the contract puts laptops in every classroom, and provides for building wide tech support.

The event brought out Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, and several other Idaho officials.

The school has signed a contract with a Utah based company called iSchools Campus.

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About 6,500 Idaho high school teachers are scheduled to get laptops this fall as part of the state’s Students Come First education laws. All the state's high school students will then get computers over the next few years. But the state still doesn’t know who will provide all that hardware along with the training and maintenance. Last week the state had to change its tactics for finding a provider after it failed to get enough qualified bidders.

sde.idaho.gov

High school students in 32 Idaho districts will get laptops next year . Tuesday Idaho’s Department of Education announced the first round of districts to get one computer per student. Idaho’s two largest districts, Meridian and Boise were chosen and so were seven other Treasure Valley districts. The computers are mandated by the state’s Students Come First laws.

sde.idaho.gov

The Idaho Department of Education announced Tuesday that high school students at 32 school districts will get laptops in the fall of 2013. Nine of those districts are in the Treasure Valley. 

This is the first round of school districts to get laptops under Idaho’s Students Come First education laws. Those mandated a ratio of one mobile computer per high school student.

The state’s two largest districts, Meridian and Boise, as well as Vallivue and Kuna are part of this first rollout. All the state’s high school teachers will get a laptop this fall.