I have spent the last several years in a large district helping to implement new technology and providing staff development while teaching science. I switched districts this year and am currently teaching middle school science in a small north Texas school district which encompasses a large amount of land, most of which is only currently be developed, in a mid to high socioeconomic community. We have 4 elementary schools (K-4) with a fifth planned for 2015, 2 middle schools (one for 5-6th graders and one for 7-8th graders), and one high school. Although we are busting at the seams and getting larger every day, our tax base will not support new schools just yet. This creates unique challenges both for space and technology integration.
My District At A Glance
Each campus has at least one classroom set of iPads, laptops carts and computer labs that teachers can sign up to use. All of the seventh and eighth graders in our district attend my middle school campus. We have approximately 950 students which would put our iPad ratio at about 30:1 and our desktop/laptop ratio at approximately 10:1. The district is slowly integrating new technologies, some campus wide while others are classroom based. The high school students received Google Education accounts in January while two fifth/sixth grade teachers are piloting a 1:1 initiative with Chromebooks. These students also received Google Education accounts.
If our district were able to go 1:1 with any device, I would suggest the Chromebook. While the iPad is a great product that I use in my classroom often, it has its limitations including the price and accessibility. Updating and buying apps can become a problem as well as reinstalling them when students delete them. This type of request has to go through the technology department, which takes time. Students also dislike not having a keyboard and word processor that exports and/or saves easily. The inability to use Flash has also been a problem.
I also looked at the difference between laptops running Windows and the Chromebook. In my previous district, I flipped my classroom and had a laptop cart almost exclusively for my students. I used Google accounts with my students for collaboration, presentations, word processing, etc. The big plus of Chromebooks versus laptops is the cost. Since we will be implementing the Google accounts on a wider scale, the reduced cost of the Chromebook would make it possible to provide a classroom set to more teachers.
It would be best to implement the same device for all subject/grade level areas. Implementing one type of device makes providing professional development and teacher/technology support more accessible. Teachers can create a support network for questions and ideas as well as problem solve any issues that may arise.
Since my district is small and the budget even smaller, I would not choose one campus for the 1:1 implementation. Identify teachers on each campus from different grade levels and subject areas that are familiar with Google Drive and Chromebooks or teachers with technology experience who are willing to attend professional development sessions. Find districts in our area that have implemented 1:1 programs and have teachers and administrators visit these schools/districts to learn more about their successes and challenges. Examples would include Irving ISD and Grand Prairie ISD.
Provide staff development for the teachers on how to use the Chromebook and the different features of Google Education accounts before implementing them with students in the classroom. Discuss and create goals for the school year and how you will measure the progress of each classroom towards these goals. Schedule online or in person meeting times to discuss problems and solutions that may arise throughout the school and provide support for the teachers. Educate parents and students to the goals of the 1:1 initiative and the rationale behind it. Teachers should submit lesson plans and samples of students work/projects throughout the year for documentation and sharing purposes. Use data to determine which subjects/grade levels would most benefit to determine how to continue the implementation.
The 1:1 implementation will create personalized learning environments, promote collaboration, increase engagement, as well as provide real world problem solving opportunities and ownership of learning. By providing documentation such as data, lesson plans and work samples, the pilot program can be implemented in more classrooms each year.
Too many 1:1 implementations are about the device they are using, not the learning that is taking place. Alan November makes this point in the article, Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing, “Adding a digital device to the classroom without a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning will not lead to significant improvement. Unless clear goals across the curriculum—such as the use of math to solve real problems—are articulated at the outset, one-to-one computing becomes “spray and pray.” Other challenges include finding time to train teachers and our district’s bandwidth will definitely be put to the test with this number of new devices.
South Bay Middle School Chromebook Project
Although this middle school is extremely small with only 80 students, it is a great example of how to start small. The 1:1 initiative can then be implemented on a larger scale after the success of the program has been proven and potential challenges worked out.
1:1 Pilot Proposal Sudbury Public schools in MA implemented a 1:1 initiative with their sixth grade students. Check out their proposal and the research including the cost comparison chart shown below for the 2013-14 implementation.
Leyden CHSD 212 – 1:1 With Chromebooks
After listening to Jason Markey discuss their 1:1 implementation in this week’s EDIM 516 video, I wanted to take a closer look at their procedures. I really enjoyed the detail of this document and it shows how you would alter the Acceptable Use Policy for those with the devices.