This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

A school district requires iPads–for kindergartners.

The concept of consumerization is gaining momentum in many organizations today. Bringing consumer devices to work promises to change the way we work, learn and live. The potential exists for this to be among the biggest technology shifts of our lifetime. As great as this trend seems, I’m not sure if we’ve taken the time to ask, can this shift be taken too far and what are the potential risks involved?

The local school system in the Massachusetts town where I live, the Ashburnham-Westminster school district, may have gone too far and too fast. The school district is proposing a mandate that all students coming into Kindergarten next year must have an iPad and bring it to school daily. Not high school or middle school or even older elementary school kids, but only kindergartners. That’s right, the same kindergartners that are learning how to line up will bring tablets to school. Not any generic tablet either, specifically Apple iPads, the Cadillac of tablets.

The school district had been facing a number of issues that it feels would be addressed with an iPad program. Specifically:

* The school district has been unable to provide adequate technology at the early school levels.
* The Massachusetts Department of Education is recommending that schools adopt a one-to-one computer program for schools.
* The school district has found keeping technology up to date and available to all students increasingly difficult.
* The school district believes that integrating technology into the lives of the students can only be reached when the ratio of computers per student reaches one to one.

Couple these challenges with the fact that kids now use all kinds of technology outside of the school at younger and younger ages, and it seems something needs to change. I think it’s fair to say that most students feel that technology is much better at home than at school (workers say this quite often too). Enter the iPad program.

The program would work one of three ways:

* The parent could buy an iPad for the student
* Parents can enter a 2-year lease program, paying $50 up front for insurance and then $25 per month for two years with a $1 buy out at the end. ($651 over two years)
* If the parents cannot afford either option, the school district is working on a plan to accommodate but there are no details yet.

On paper (or I should say on glass), this makes a lot of sense. Students are using technology more and more anyway, so why not make the tablet an integrated part of the educational curriculum? The reason the Ashburnham-Westminster schools wants to start with Kindergarten is that these students will never know life without a computer. Additionally, parents tend to be most involved with Kindergarten since it’s the first year of school for most kids. Seems to make sense–again on paper.

NEXT PAGE: Interview with a concerned parent

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.

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