Netbooks in K-12: Thinking Big by Thinking Small

Netbooks in K-12: Thinking Big by Thinking Small

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Thursday, October 15 | 1 pm PST / 4 pm EST

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In today’s challenging economy, school districts must do more with less. Some have found success with new technologies that allow them to address student needs at a lower cost than ever before. The secret is in thinking big – planning to equip low-income students with the technology they need – and thinking small – purchasing netbooks.

Dr. Manuel L. Isquierdo, Superintendent of the Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, AZ and Kurt Madden, Chief Technology Officer in the Fresno USD in Fresno, CA will explain how they have created successful one-to-one programs that address their districts’ goals, challenges, and needs and are cost effective at the same time.

Fresno USD increased the number of computers in select classrooms, provided students with the freedom to pursue individual research projects online and work collaboratively in classrooms. Sunnyside USD used technology to increase the graduation rate and saw dramatic results in student grades, attendance and the school culture among students and teachers.

Superintendent Isquierdo and CTO Madden will discuss the following issues:

- Why they made the decision to go with a netbook.
- How it has impacted teaching and learning.
- How students are using the netbooks.
- Impact on student attendance, time-on-task, engagement, behavior, and other factors.
- Impact on teacher use of technology.
- Professional development.
- Cost effectiveness.
- Lessons learned and best practices.


Dr. Manuel L. Isquierdo, Ed.D. joined the Sunnyside Unified School District in July 2007 to serve as the district’s superintendent. In November 2007, he launched Project Graduation, aimed at reducing the dropout rate and increasing the district’s graduation rate. The project’s focus on credit recovery, attendance and interventions has already resulted in significant improvements in the graduation rate and reduced dropouts. Project Graduation: The Digital Advantage, launched for this year’s freshmen, awarded personal laptop computers to almost half of the freshmen at Desert View and Sunnyside high schools for achieving the four A’s by the end of the first semester: academics, attendance, (extracurricular) activity, and attitude (no out-of-school suspensions). In six months, business and community sponsors have pledged $1 million to support The Digital Advantage.

Dr. Isquierdo comes to Sunnyside from Great Schools Workshop, Inc., where, as Superintendent- in-Residence, he used his expertise in school leadership and improvement to help schools with strategic planning and developing action plans to improve student achievement, lower dropout rates and improve school environments.

Dr. Isquierdo has served as an administrator in both urban and suburban school districts for the past 20 years, two years as an Area Superintendent in the Dallas Independent School District and two years as Deputy Superintendent of Stockton Unified School District in Stockton, California. His record is one of consistent achievement in the field of school improvement with an emphasis on improving test scores, decreasing dropout rates, and increasing graduation rates. As an urban school administrator in districts such as Kansas City, Chicago, Dallas and Northern California,

Dr. Isquierdo is experienced in implementing and managing change and creating and designing successful comprehensive school reform initiatives that are being used as models at the state and national levels.

Kurt Madden is the Chief Technology Officer and Associate Superintendent for Fresno Unified School District, the fourth largest district in California. He is responsible for the strategy and implementation of educational technology for 75,000 students, 10,000 staff, 100 schools, and 4,000 classrooms.

Prior to his current position, Kurt held several leadership positions including Corporate VP for a Fortune 1000 technology firm, President of two local technology companies, and CEO of a large community-based organization.

He's been an adjunct professor for Information Systems at the Craig School of Business at Fresno State University for the past 14 years. He’s a member of the Microsoft K12 Advisory Council, the HP Mobile Advisory Council, and past member of the Board of the Central California Society of Information Managers.

He is a member of several regional boards and councils including the Fresno Business Council, the Fresno County Workforce Investment Board, the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation, the Regional Jobs Initiative Leadership Council, and is the chair of the Fresno Economic Development Council. He attended Fresno Unified schools, graduated from Fresno State University, has been married to his wife, Katy, for 30 years, has three kids in college, and is committed to his community.