By cutting back on textbooks, CSG Calvin saved enough money within a few years to be able to purchase a laptop for each student. What choices have the schools made to achieve this?
CUTTING BOX ON TEXTBOOKS
Four years ago, the board of CVO, the board under which the Calvin school community falls, made a memorandum advocating the importance of making conscious choices when spending educational resources money. Director Bas van Hamburg of Calvin Meerpaal: “We have translated that memorandum to our branches. All sections of the schools have started to make more conscious choices. By cutting back on textbooks and rearranging resources, we created a buffer. We used this to purchase a laptop for every student, without parents having to pay for it. In this way, we offer equal opportunities to students from different socio-economic backgrounds.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH SECTION
In practice, the cutbacks worked in such a way that if a section wanted a new method, they first discussed it with the deputy director of education. For example, if a section wanted a modern but expensive method for lower secondary education, the teachers themselves had to indicate how this could be funded. Bas: “One of the ways is, for example, by developing your own content for other grades, for example with secondary education content. More and more teachers discovered that they could achieve a lot by trying out new things and experimenting.”
After working in this way for three years, a laptop was purchased for all 4,200 students in the summer of 2017. The CVO issued a European tender for this: “We wanted sturdy devices that can take a beating, that is handy and affordable,” says IT team leader Dimitri Verschoor of Calvijn Meerpaal. “Everyone has been given the same laptop that can also be used as a tablet. In principle, a student has to do this throughout his school life.”
The introduction of the laptops has been prepared in pilots. Dimitri: “We participated in various projects to gain experience with ICT in the classroom. For example, one of our schools won fifty devices from Microsoft in a national competition and another location has started a pilot itself. These schools have been trialed for a number of years.”
The balance between traditional and digital learning resources differs per department, Bas explains. “Some departments opt for self-development, through trial and error. Others opt for a traditional method with an online component, others for almost everything digital. But all teachers know that students are also expected to work on the laptop. We aim for 20-25 percent of the class time. But it’s about the balance: a classroom explanation from a teacher can also be very valuable. I think that’s why you have to be very conscious about what you buy.”
In the meantime, Calvin evaluates what the experiences are. Bas: “Students naturally enjoy having a laptop, but they are not necessarily convinced that you will achieve higher grades with a laptop. That has not been proven either. But because computers are ubiquitous in our society, we want them to be used in school by all students as well.” If you are looking for affordable laptops for your child you can visit best laptop under $700 for more details.
REFINE AND IMPROVE
Recently, the various sections at Calvijn Meerpaal have made new choices in the field of teaching materials. Bas explains: “You can do that with online licenses: you can write off a book in five years, but you can cancel an online license after one year. Those conversations went very well, especially because teachers have already learned to make conscious choices in the past three years.”