WHY DON’T MORE DISTRICTS GO OPEN?There could be a lot of reasons more districts aren’t following the Penn Manor path. In many cases districts haven’t even heard of the open-source options available. In others, there’s a perception that getting something for free inherently means it will be a worse product.In other places, giving students the most expensive, shiniest device might be a point of pride. “We wanted our students to have the best of the best,” said Dr. Darryl Adams, Superintendent ofCoachella Valley Unified School District. This is a very poor district. Every child gets free and reduced priced lunch and yet voters passed a $42 million bond in 2012 to provide technology to schools. In the eyes of this district’s students, Apple products are the best.“They’re very proud,” Adams said. “There are two other districts in the valley that are more affluent, but they don’t have what our kids have.” The district also chose iPads because it liked Apple’s iLife products and wanted teachers to have access to the app store with its many education resources. “We felt like the benefits outweighed the cost,” Adams said. “We wanted something more systematic.”Hillview Middle School in the much more affluent Menlo Park School District had similar reasons for choosing iPads. “Currently, and things are changing, the iPad education app store is far more advanced, mature, bugless and ubiquitous than the others,” said Eric Burmeister, principal of Hillview Middle School. At his school all app downloads have to be approved and initiated by the IT department, so all the devices have the same resources on them. The central system knows immediately if a student has tampered with any of the internet filter settings or tried to download something.Burmeister said he chose tablets instead of laptops because he felt the touch screen was intuitive to students and the devices could do just as much as laptops in terms of video editing and other creation tools.Yet another district, Oakland Unified, chose Chromebooks, deciding that the most important resource for students is the internet and the many programs and applications found there. Relying on the internet allows schools to make individual decisions about when and where to spend money on other online tools.“Don’t pay for anything until you’ve gone to one end of the internet and back and decided that it either doesn’t exist for free or it doesn’t exist in the way you really need it to in terms of functionality and support,” said Killian Betlach, principal of Elmhurst Community Prep, a Title I school. “There is so much out there.” He’s confident with a strong internet connection his teachers can do a lot to support their student’s learning.Reisinger understands concerns of other districts, but can’t help thinking they are overlooking powerful, low cost tools in the open community. “There’s so much emphasis on the new and shiny,” he said. “And in some ways we’re going back to the start, letting kids work on computing and programming, it’s not that sexy.” For him, the big differentiators is the freedom to explore and build meaningful products without being cut off from the underlying code.“If this program is truly for and about our kids then why would we not want to put them in the drivers seat and make them the engineers?” Reisinger said.