Another Indiana school corporation goes digital
October 19, 2011 by Geoff Fletcher
The New York Times featured Munster School Corporation in a recent article about Munster's rather rapid shift from print to digital in their schools. The article highlights how Munster decided to make this leap quickly rather than incrementally by taking out all math and science textbooks for grades 5 – 12 within 5 months. This affected 2600 students. The cost was $1.1 million, primarily for infrastructure, half of which was paid for by the town, with the school corporation (school districts are called school corporations in Indiana) picking up the remainder.
Although there are positive vignettes in the article, such a fast change was not without difficulty, as teachers and parents needed to be convinced this was a good thing. Like other school corporations in Indiana, Munster issued laptops to students and charged a rental fee – the same process used in the state for textbooks. The amount of the fee was the same as textbook fees had been in recent years, but this time students received a laptop with insurance.
The article also points out, as we have in this space before, that Indiana significantly altered its textbook review and adoption policy to where the state reviews but does not pick winners and losers. As Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said, "We've stopped pretending that the state board of education is the biggest school district in the state."
Munster made this shift in 5 months, while Mooresville, NC has taken about 4 years to make the shift to where they are about 90 percent digital. If you had your choice, would you make the shift in months or years?