Six years ago, my father-in-law and I built this playhouse for my son. Every time I went to Lowes to buy more supplies I was shocked on how much the hardware cost. The cost of the hardware (screws, nails, etc) cost about the same amount as all the lumber.
Don’t forget to include the cost of the accessories when calculating the cost-per-student (CPS) price for the 1:1. Chromebooks need cases, they will need some way to identify one student’s Chromebook from an other.
Cases: Simple enough, find a case for a Chromebook. Not just any Chromebook, but the number one model of Chromebook being sold today…. Not as easy as it sounds. When our team started looking for a case for the student to use with the Samsung Chromebook, we were surprised to find out that there really isn’t a large selection. Three things were needed when selecting a case for the device:
- Protection: The case has no value if it doesn’t protect the district’s investment. We found cases that looked cool, but offered very little protection. From our visit to schools in the Chicago area, we learned that the number one cause of cracked screens were from devices being crushed between textbooks in a student’s backpack. We looked at the cases the school used on our visit, but they were too costly and big. These are the other two things to consider when selecting a case.
- Cost: Whatever case you select for your 1:1 will cost money and if you are purchasing hundreds of them, the it’s going to drive the CPS price up. The case we saw in Chicago cost $24 a piece. Now if you multiply that by 950 devices we purchased for our pilot, you can see why that was not a solution for us. Unlike the schools in the Chicago area, we could not charge the student for the device or the case, the technology had to be purchased using district technology funds. We found a case for $9, but when the sample arrived we quickly figured out that it lacked the protection we needed and it was missing the last thing you need to consider when selecting a case, the design.
- Design: Cases can only protect a device if the device is put in the case. The cheaper option mentioned above had a top zipper so a student could keep the case in their backpack and drop the device in from the top, but it also came with a handle and we could imagine 9th grade boys using their cased Chromebook as a weapon. The more expensive option above, required the student to take the case completely out of their backpack to unzip the clamshell case. Also as I mentioned above, it was huge! It would not fit in most student’s backpacks or be easy enough to carry. One team member brought up a good point, student won’t put the device back in the case and you will have classroom filled with cases and teachers trying to hunt down the owners of the cases. We then started looking for a case that the students could keep the device in the case at all times. We were able to find a case for $12. This case came with elastic straps on the lower part of the case, but nothing to hold the device in at the top, and because of time, (we needed 950 cases) we had to purchase velcro to hold the device in the case near the hinge of the Chromebook. That leads to another cost…..
Picked a case, but now we need velcro… Grrr. Lucky for us, finding the velcro in time was the biggest problem. A team of four IT staff members and I worked for two days to put little velcro coins on all 950 devices. During this installation we had to put an identification sticker on each Chromebook, a district asset bar code and enter them into the SIS system.
During our policy planning we decided that a device without an ID sticker would be considered stolen so we needed a sticker that would not easily be removed. We were able to use our SIS (PowerSchool) to create and print the stickers. We also needed some way to identify the top of the case (so the student opens the case correctly), this needed to be a waterproof sticker (sweaty hands) that would stay adhered to the case. We went with waterproof Avery laser stickers, but there was a cost that added to the CPS price.
Pilot Update: The stickers on the Chromebooks are working great. We stressed in the Pilot Handbook, that the sticker should not be removed or marked on. We need to find a way to print the stickers one at time. Every time we have a new student we have to use a whole sheet of stickers for a few IDs. Some student have complained that someone has removed their case sticker, but I don’t think this can ever be avoided.
You may want to think about printing costs. We printed a Pilot Handbook for every parent who attended the parent meeting. We also produced triplicate repair forms for new students and for damaged Chromebooks. This all comes with a cost to consider. We decided to offer insurance, and be self-insured. If this is not an option for your district, you will need to plan for 3% loss from loss or damage.