Make vs. Buy

Hi-tech Project Based Learning Labs

Principal to Principal

Question

I want my students to experience consistent, high quality, project-based, sustainable, relevant technical and highly engaging learning. I have limited resources - money, time and workers. What are my options?

Two Possible Answers

Build My Own
  • What kits should I buy?
  • What kind of software should I purchase?
  • What types of computers do I need to support the software needed to power the kits?
  • Who is going to design the lessons the students will be completing?
  • Do I have an expert on staff that is qualified to design content for all the possible project based learning engagements that I’d like the students to complete?
  • Is this expert going to have enough time to design enough learning engagements for students to complete in the environment from elementary through high school?
  • Are these lessons going to be print based or built using online resources and links that are cloud based?
  • Who is going to be updating these lessons at least annually to make sure that they continue to work?
  • Who is going to design new lessons as technology changes and new opportunities become available for kids? Will this individual have the time to complete this task?
  • How can I receive the funds needed to purchase all the needed materials and provide curriculum development time for the designers (annually)?
  • How and who will provide assessment in this environment?
Purchase Turn Key Solution
  • Are the learning engagements aligned to North Dakota standards?
  • Does the installing organization provide full support and training for the environment and are they local?
  • Are performance based assessments included?
  • Are lessons updated and easily accessible anywhere?
  • How does the cost compare to building my own?
  • Are there sustainability costs?
  • How often will the technology/kits/software/need to be updated?

Before deciding, answers to the questions above are crucial. Consult with North Dakota’s Center for Distance Education (NDCDE). NDCDE has experience with providing training and support in both types of environments. NDCDE has witnessed what causes project based learning labs to fail, and what causes students to reach high levels of achievement in this type of environment. For more information contact Matthew Lonn, NDCDE’s Director of Statewide Programming at matthew.lonn@k12.nd.us or 701-566-8480.

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