Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

District's Micros Offer Happy Balance of Both Price and Performance

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

District's Micros Offer Happy Balance of Both Price and Performance

Article excerpt

District's Micros Offer Happy Balance of Both Price and Performance

It's a dilemma faced by educators everywhere who decide to enhance instruction with technology: Do you spend the available funds on a few high-end computers or buy a more effective number of less-costly units? And must quality be compromised for quantity? This was the quandry Jim Hardwick, supervisor of instructional technology for Arkansas' Little Rock School District, found himself in last Summer.

In compliance with a state mandate, the district, which encompasses some 27,000 K-12 students, instituted computer literacy and introductory computer science classes at the ninth-grade level. Students were required to take one or the other. The eight junior high schools in the district were, consequently, required to install computer labs.

MS-DOS machines with color monitors, parallel and serial ports, and at least 512K were decided upon, and Hardwick launched a search for the best price/performance ratio possible. What he found, at Amstrad, Inc. of Irving, Texas, was a single-drive, 512K computer with a color monitor, mouse and software (including Digital Research's GEM Paint program) for $723.

That unit price permitted him to acquire 168 of the Model 1512s--some with 640K and dual disk drives. Each junior high lab in the district got 21, with one Epson LX-800 printer for every three micros.

A Practical Approach

Lab usage began in the Fall of '87, with the year-long computer science classes convening five times a week and the semester-long computer literacy classes meeting half as often. LOGO and BASIC programming is taught in the computer science class, but the heaviest emphasis in both classes is on applications. …

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