One academy in Miami is definitely ahead of the many others in terms of technology: every student is handed a laptop. Additionally, the academy, in a bid to cement its status in technology, recently launched a new website where parents can go for shopping tips.
The principal of iPrep Academy, Alberto Carvalho, who is also the Superintendent of Schools, is a digital learning evangelist.
"The convergence from a traditional textbook to digital content is a must," Carvalho says. "This is no longer a question of whether or not this will be done; the question is, when we will have this done."
The Miami-Dade school district is extending WiFi coverage to every school, trying to put laptops or tablets in every student's hands.
"They seek information and they manage information very, very different from the way we did, we now need to create education environments that replicate, mimic their lifestyle," Carvalho said, sitting in a classroom at iPrep, amidst students working on their laptops, some of them sitting on couches and bean bags.
According to NBC News, just in time for Black Friday shopping madness, the Miami-Dade schools are launching a website which they call BYOD, or bring your own device: wifi.dadeschools.net. It's an online place that allows parents, students and staff to use their own technology during the day to enhance the learning experience. Windows laptops/tablets, Mac laptops, Android tablets, and iPads are examples of the type of technology that can be used. Students' participation in the BYOD program is not required.
"So this is like a 2 for 1, buy a device, satisfy the holiday desires of your kids but also empower them with a tool that they can use in school as we launch BYOD district-wide," Carvalho said.
When one goes to the website and clicks on "minimum specifications", a table that lists the different types of devices on the market appears. Scrolling down, one will see a table that shows which devices can handle the programs that are currently used in the Miami-Dade school district.
"I mean if you want to buy an iPad, here's some information about the type of iPad you should be buying, or an Android, or a Windows device," said Diaz.
Digital learning for all is the model, and getting there is expensive but no longer a dream. According to the superintendent, the bond issue passed by voters last year will help buy about 140,000 laptops for families that can't afford them, helping bridge the digital divide.