Welcome to the 2012-2013 School Year
In the course of the year I’m often asked how we implemented our many pilots and what steps need to be taken if someone else would like to do the same. The info below is meant to be a brief guide (what worked for us may not work for you, you may have a better way of doing etc) every step of the way someone will say “You can’t do that!” and the purpose of this blog (and the entire Ning itself) is to show others it is being done and change the conversation from Can’t to How….It’s also important to note that our implementation is not supported by our IT department, it is a grass roots effort supported directly by students and instructional staff. Our philosophy is to not centrally manage and control devices rather to give students access to devices so they can take ownership of the device (and we hope their education)
Identify instructional need and location:
This is not about technology it’s about learning so make sure you are clear on what your learning outcomes are, all other decisions should be driven by these learning outcomes
Identify, create and or purchase content that is accessible via the Cloud (Internet)
There are multiple open source materials out there and they are growing every day, I’ve listed just some of them below. We have used the open source materials as well as adopted materials which requires negotiations with publishers but remember you already purchased the book so as long as you can show that you can protect the content publishers need to give you at least pdf access….(if not move completely to open source!)
Khan Academy: (More than just Algebra)
District, Teacher or Student created content:
Update acceptable use policies to encompass BYOT
Our existing policies (prior to BYOT) restricted use of any kind of electronic device and yet we were often confiscating our preventing better technology than what we could provide. We put in place a new Acceptable Use Policy that changed that and also made it clear that technology use by students (no matter who owns the technology) is a shared responsibility of the school and the community.
Update (if needed) and allow student access to wireless system
In our case we simply created a student educational network with internet access only. That kept the adult network separate and since all of our resources educationally are cloud based the worse that could happen is that a student hacked in and learned Algebra J
Survey Parents to identify who has or who would purchase technology to bring to school
We created a very simple survey that informed parents of our “open Access” philosophy and asked 3 simple questions. Do you have or would you be willing to buy a device for your student to bring to school (yes or no) do you have computer access and internet access that the student can use at home (yes or no) I do not have and or are unwilling to allow my student to take a personal device to school. That way we can identify where the need is and plan accordingly.
Identify appropriate device (s) (Device Agnostic) to provide for students with no technology
The idea of there can only be one type of technology (i.e. windows, Mac etc) is now outdated at best and ancient at worst. Even districts that have standardized realize that they have many different models, operating systems and software versions. We believe strongly in a device agnostic approach because of the student support access and the ongoing assurance that we are getting the best device to meet the instructional need at the best possible price. It also allows for competition among our vendors J another note, we allow students to personalize their devices by giving them admin access. As a result the devices become precious to the students and we have a much lower loss rate than we had with paper resources.
Provide broadband access and or caching software for content
The good news is that all of our content is available via the web. The bad news is that not all students have internet access. We have attacked that in two separate ways. One is to provide broadband access or at least a list of locations where people can gain internet access (public wifi spots) we have also provided devices with broadband access and work with our work with our local cable companies to provide low cost internet access at home. The other way we approach this is using caching software that takes a picture of all content in our online system that pertains to the particular user that is available while off the Internet and then synchs back up any changes when in range of wifi or broadband.
Provide parents with 3rd party insurance information
We use a company called student insurance partners (http://www.studentinsurancepartners.com/) because we treat devices exactly like textbooks the parents and students are responsible for replacement costs if device is damaged or stolen. We offer insurance as an option to help with those costs (roughly $30 a year) which cover loss of device, repair etc
Provide parent and student orientations on access to instructional resources and responsible digital citizenship
We are often asked about the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and we understand that CIPa’s intent is to make sure students are safe on the internet. Traditionally districts have used a fenced in approach using brute force filters and other draconian measures that do not work (Take a look at YouTube if you don’t believe me) savvy students go around these filters and measures fairly easily. We have chosen to focus on responsible use by providing parents and student’s info on how to be a digital citizen and what is and is not responsible behavior. We use a variety of resources that we make available to parents and the FCC (arguably the CIPA police) has rewarded our efforts with a 1.2 million dollar grant to continue our practice. Oh, and on a side note CIPA does not apply to the adults in your system but most of you are filtered and controlled exactly as if you were a student….Why is that?
Use existing textbook inventory process to check out devices
We decided early on to use our existing textbook management and delivery systems and locations (library media centers) We use our textbook tracking system to check out devices instead of textbooks (average textbook replacement cost at secondary level was $500 now is closer to $300 as all textbooks are available on the devices)
Students provide tech support as well as portions of staff development and support
Students at all levels know more about technology than the adults (often including our technology departments) we have asked all sites to tap into that resource. We also understand that teachers may never be able to catch up to where the students are with technology and we encourage them to let that part go. They are still the content specialist in the room but have 35 potential tech support persons in their room at all times.
Staff Development as needed, but not using traditional model
In the 21st century teachers and administrators need to be the lead learners, not the acknowledged experts and that is especially true in the area of technology. We do provide staff development and collaboration but it is largely voluntary and focuses on the key aspect of where and how to place content online as well as how to use the online system to provide 24/7 learning opportunities. This training is provided online in an asynchronous model where a teacher can start and end where they need help rather than the system dictating exactly how and what they will do