The beginning of the initiative, from concept to the first district-wide laptop launch, spanned four years.
In the early stages, the district set clear goals including the continued improvement of instruction through addressing the skills of the 21st century teacher and learner, in an effort to better reflect both society and the workforce, and to best prepare students for their college careers.
Throughout the process of developing our 1:1 Laptop eLearning Initiative, we made the time to perform research in an effort to ascertain what the experts were thinking in the area of transforming education through the use of technology in the classroom. Additionally, visitations and contacts were made to those districts who had taken the steps to implement 1:1 laptop initiatives of their own.
While the research continued, we began discussions with those companies that could provide the hardware, infrastructure and security components needed to realize the goals of the program. Virtually every major laptop vendor visited the Pascack Regional High School district to discuss their solutions. We also met with network and laptop security providers of the time to learn what would be needed to create an environment where students can take their laptops home and enjoy them for educational use 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
A key component of our infrastructure has been provided by the LightPath division of Cablevision. Our district buildings are connected via a Private Fiber Network, creating a wide area network monitored and maintained by LightPath. This configuration allows both students and staff to login to our network during the day from anywhere within a district building.
Over the years, we have made several upgrades to our Internet service to assure adequate service. We initially had a T1 line, with bandwidth of 1.5 Mbps. Today, we have 200 times that original bandwidth, with a 150Mbps circuit in each of our high school buildings. Each circuit primarily serves its respective school, but networking equipment is configured to fail-over to one circuit in the event the other fails. This enhanced Internet service supports remote access to all district services for students and teachers, helping to extend the school day with the convenience of having one’s digital materials available at any time, and from anywhere.
Critical to the success of the project at that time was the Professional Development component designed and implemented. During August of 2004, 90 staff members reported to the district to receive their laptops and participate in a 3-day summer camp. The work of that event focused on the effective integration of the use of technology into instruction. Since that initial activity, the district continues to focus on effective technology integration, offering pertinent and effective professional development activities.