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Student How-To Guides

HOW-TO…Start a laptop lending program at my school.

In 2003 and 2004, NetDay surveyed students around the country about their technology use. In an open-ended question about school technology, thousands of you expressed your strong desire to start a laptop lending program at your schools. You say it would benefit your education. You say you would learn more and get better grades.

Laptop programs can be set up in different ways. Some laptop lending programs allow students to check out laptops during school or even to take home with them. Others provide each student with a laptop. If you want to influence such a change at your school, it will involve a well-thought- out proposal, commitment, and dedication. We think you’re up to the challenge!

This How-to Guide will help you develop a proposal to share your idea with your school community. We’ve started some of the work for you, but you need to take it from here. Make it work for your school!

1.

Problem and Proposal
What is your problem? What is your proposal?

Problem: I would really like to use the technology at school but there’s not enough time in the day.
Proposal: Start a laptop lending program at our school.

Print out this worksheet to collect your ideas and your research for your action proposal.

2.

Rationale

What reasons support your goal? Some examples might include:

  • Having laptops to use during school will allow more students to use technology during school hours.
  • Many students don’t have computers at home or else don't have software options at home. Letting students bring laptops home helps to bridge the "digital divide."
  • Having access to laptops will help us more efficiently complete our schoolwork and carry over our work from one subject to the next.
  • Having laptops helps us reduce paper waste and helps reduce the load of books and notebooks we must carry around.

What is your school's technology plan? Can you show how your idea supports your school or district’s plan for technology?

Read about school technology plans.

3.

Research
Find examples: How have other schools approached this problem? Researching other school’s successes can give you new ideas and help you refine your own ideas.

For this proposal, your biggest question is going to be "How can our school get the money for the laptops?" See if you can find ideas from reading about other schools that have made it work.

Find news articles and other research to learn how other schools have approached this same problem.

Browse the SVRC Success Stories for advice from the student community.

Collect data: What data can you collect from your own student community to support your idea? If you can, organize a student poll to find out the strength of interest in a laptop lending program. Some polling questions might include:

  • What is your interest in a laptop lending program that lets you check out laptops for use during school? (no interest, some interest, lots of interest)
  • What is your interest in a laptop lending program that lets you check out laptops to take home? (no interest, some interest, lots of interest)
  • Would you be willing to put down a deposit for your laptop? (no, $50, $100, as much as necessary)
  • Would you and your parents/guardians be willing to sign an agreement to pay to repair or replace a laptop if you were at fault for its loss or damage? (yes, no)
  • Do you think other students would be responsible and respectful with their laptops? (yes, no)

Find resources and articles about planning research projects.

4.

Obstacles
What other issues do you need to consider?

Read about issues to consider when suggesting change.

5.

Details of your proposal

What is your proposal? Now that you’ve identified your goals and completed your research, write a summary of your proposal. Do you think your school should invest in a dozen laptops for students to check out as needed? Do you think your school should apply for a grant to purchase laptops for each student? Do you have ideas about the software needs and maintenance needs that come along with such a plan? Write up the details as much as you’ve figured out.
6.

Support

Think about groups and individuals who would be willing to support your idea. Some examples may include individual teachers, student clubs, your school’s PTA, the student government, service clubs, and local business groups. Try to think of a group that would have an interest in volunteering some time to help you organize or support the computer lab.

Share your research and your proposal and see if these groups are willing to support you as a volunteer, a mentor, or even just adding their word of support to your proposal.

7. Make a presentation

A successful presentation summarizes your proposal, your rationale, and your research. This is what you are going to use to convince the decision-makers to support you.

Review the worksheet of what should be in your action proposal.

See an example of an Action Proposal presentation.
8. Set up a meeting
Write a letter, make a phone call, or send an email to set up a meeting with decision-makers to present your idea. Your letter should include an introduction of your proposal and a polite request for a time when you can share your idea. Explain that you have done research and have a proposal to share with them regarding your school’s computer lab.

Who makes decisions about school use of the computer lab?

Read a who’s who of school decision makers.
8. Present Your Action Proposal: This is your chance you use your best manners. Remember, you want to be convincing and likeable. If you’ve followed the steps in this guide, you are prepared with good research and support for your ideas. Your job now is to present your proposal and gain support from decision-makers.

Feedback
Have you had success with opening up your school’s computer lab? Please submit your Success Story or email any feedback about this module to SVRCStaff@netday.org . You are a star
 

What YOU Said:

(Student Quotes from NetDay's 2004 Speak Up Day survey)
 

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