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Sitting on 40 acres of rolling hills in Hillsboro, Mo., about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis, is the Grandview R-II School District, which has 850 K12 students and about 120 staff members. Nearly 100 percent of the computers operate in the cloud.

In the 1990s, school districts invested all they could in desktop computers that had plenty of horsepower, since applications and data were all stored locally on individual machines. By the 2000s, the individual machines had become less critical as districts moved to server-based networks.

Mobile learning is on the rise, and consequently, so is the need for mobile connectivity. According to a 2010 survey of E-rate consumers, including public schools and libraries, conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 50 percent of respondents said they plan to implement or expand the use of digital textbooks and other wireless devices.

While tablet computers like the iPad get more attention, eBook readers—comparatively simpler devices designed specifically for reading electronic versions of books, magazines and newspapers—are currently selling in greater numbers and at a faster rate than tablets. E-book readers also hold much appeal for education, and for the same reasons they are increasing in popularity with consumers: ever-improving features and growing capabilities for displaying a variety of content, for a fraction of the price of most full-featured tablet PCs.

Netbooks were the subject of a lot of attention in education about two years ago; many saw these inexpensive, compact versions of laptops as the devices that would finally enable one-to-one computing to become commonplace in K12. Today, even though new devices have appeared—namely, tablets like the iPad—and taken much of the spotlight in the discussion, netbooks remain a viable and inexpensive option for creating a one-to-one program.


Third-grader Makenzie Melton's artistry will ensure that students in her Missouri school district will have access to scores of top-quality recertified computers from CDI.

The development of the first personal computer in 1971 began a process that has led to a computer reduced in size, weight and cost, which makes it increasingly popular in education—the netbook. Initially caught flat-footed by the concept, major manufacturers are scrambling to produce their own models, sometimes working with district leaders to test them.


Stephen White, solutions manager for cloud computing at HP, describes the company’s vision of cloud computing as a future with “everything as a service,” not just software programs. Here are some district management technology tools that are already heading into the cloud.



iWork ’09 and iLife ’09 Office and Multimedia Suites,

Software, $79 each



VideoStudio Pro X2

Video Editing Program, Software, $99