Sunday, September 14, 2014

Starting a 1:1 Rollout


As part of the Edublog Teacher Challenge, I have incorporated the following Prezi into my blog for this week (sorry for the delay). Please note that the information in the Prezi is also in text below the Prezi so you don't have to do both.


Who am I and what is my experience?
I am currently a technology integration specialist, aka coach, working with 3 schools in a district of 7100 students. We just initiated a full-scale rollout of 5000 iPad devices and 2100 MacBook Air laptops with our entire population PK-12. I have been fortunate to be part of the decision-making process as we have moved along. I will admit that I have been tasked with, and therefore focused on, the integration of curriculum and pedagogy. While I address some of the backend pieces of a successful rollout, the following is not an exhaustive list and is from my perspective looking in.

It is a great journey though and one that should be embarked on by more and more schools. 1:1 technology has the potential to drastically alter the education in the United States and prepare our students for a world of opportunities.

What is the purpose?
I am currently a technology integration specialist, aka coach, working with 3 schools in a district of 7100 students. We just initiated a full-scale rollout of 5000 iPad devices and 2100 MacBook Air laptops with our entire population PK-12. I have been fortunate to be part of the decision-making process as we have moved along. I will admit that I have been tasked with, and therefore focused on, the integration of curriculum and pedagogy. While I address some of the backend pieces of a successful rollout, the following is not an exhaustive list and is from my perspective looking in.

It is a great journey though and one that should be embarked on by more and more schools. 1:1 technology has the potential to drastically alter the education in the United States and prepare our students for a world of opportunities.

Choose a device
Now that you have your end-goal in mind. Choose a device or two and try them out. Choose to pilot the device with a group of teachers and a variety of students from various grade levels in the end-target group. Let them put it to the test. Experienced and novice teachers will use the device differently. 3rd grade uses devices completely different than juniors. The devices must meet the target audience's needs and abilities. An iPad is great for younger students in PK-2 but is a laptop the best option when they don't even know their alphabet?

How will you manage the devices?
Once you have devices chosen, you have to determine how you will manage them. This may even be a deciding factor in choosing the devices. If your infrastructure is Windows-based, your management software must work with Windows; even if you have Apple devices. Will all of your systems change to a different operating system? In our district, our financial software would not work on OSX systems so we are a hybrid district. Our management system has to be able to accommodate both Mac and PC. In addition to the back-end management, you have to determine how you will keep up with all of the devices. Inventory, filtering, app/program deployment, accessories, theft, damages, email, etc. The management of the devices can make or break an effective rollout.

Preload PR
As you develop the 1:1 rollout, you must engage in an aggressive and proactive public relations campaign. There are the naysayers who need to hear how this is changing the landscape of education. There are supporters who want to hear what great things are happening. There are those who have no idea what is going and would appreciate the insight. Be sure to cover all the bases: print and electronic. While the hope is to reach all people with new media, there are still lots of people (in more rural areas) that don't have email and computers or smartphones. While this number continues to decline, they can become your biggest critics if not informed. On the other hand, you have to show the potential and make people reach further into the unknown. Let them see what is possible through an effective PR campaign.

Begin Professional Development

Don't wait until everyone has a device in their hands. Begin to share strategies and methods even if they don't have a device. This lays a foundation so that when all involved have their devices, they will have a basic level of understanding. Train teachers on the "how" and the "what" of the device. How to use it. How to teach with it. How to troubleshoot. What to do when... What to show students. What gets connected where. What to do when it doesn't work. How to engage all learners.

Create Policies
After you have gone through the pilot stage, PR, and began professional development, trends and issues will begin to emerge. You have to address them with policies. These must be supported by the highest level in the organization-probably the Board of Education. It is the policies that help guide us when something goes wrong. Will you have all contingencies covered? Probably not. However, looking at other's efforts can help you draft your own policies. A word of caution: DON'T overdo the policies in an effort to try and address every little thing that could go wrong. Technology changes. Needs change. Applications change. Policies must be encompassing enough to support and guide but not strangle the potential for future success.

Strengthen the Support
Support is key. The infrastructure behind the devices must be solid. Bandwidth should be thought of before the rollout. Think you need 1GB worth? Go for 2. You will not have enough if you go for "just enough." Think about back-ups. What happens when things go down? Do you want 3-5 days for parts to come or have some back-up materials and go-to distributors ready for a problem. Do you have enough technicians to handle the added number of devices?

The other aspect of support is that for teachers and students. Hire coaches. People who are dedicated to the support of the people and the integration of the technology into the content and pedagogy needed in the classes. Without these people, the teachers can quickly feel like they are drowning and have no one to turn to for help.

Expect the Unexpected
No amount of planning can prepare you for all aspects of a 1:1 rollout. Something will go wrong somewhere. The thing is to plan, plan, and plan some more. Remember the adage: the failure to plan is a plan to fail. Use the people who know. Use the people who have been there. Use the people who have failed and changed course. Learn from mistakes made by others. Brainstorm with multiple people. Someone who you think may not have a big stake in the rollout may have insight that no one else thought of. Have a budget for problems and "oops" issues that come up. 1:1 is expensive and when something gets left out, it can be a budget-buster.



Have Fun and Breathe
1:1 is a game changer. Have fun and breathe. There will be headaches. There will be challenges. However, the rewards far outweigh the challenges. Seeing students light up when they get their device is priceless. Seeing the teachers get reinvigorated is fantastic. Hearing how parents aren't struggling to get their child to do homework because "it's fun" is a great story that doesn't get old. Enjoy the benefits. Focus on the positive. Enjoy the future.




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