Making 1:1 Work

1/6/2014 1:00:00 PM

We checked in with some districts that have been using 1:1 programs for a long time to get their insight into what makes these initiatives strong and how they can be sustained. Here are their thoughts.

Scott Ribich
Director of Technology, Bluffton-Harrison (IN)
Metropolitan School District

Describe your 1:1 program

“Each of our 1,483 students (K-12) has a third-generation iPad. Students in grades K-4 leave their iPads in the classroom, and those in grades 5-12 take them home,” says Ribich. Grades K-4 have 16GB iPads, the older students have 32GB ones. All teachers and administrators have MacBook Pros as well as iPads. “We are in the second year of our 1:1 program. We decided to move toward a 1:1 [program] in 2010, but we wanted to take our time and do things right. In the summer of 2010, we purchased SMART Boards for every teacher. In 2011, we upgraded our infrastructure so that it could handle a district-wide 1:1 [program]. In 2012, we handed out the iPads.”

What have been your biggest successes?

“We went from a district that wasn’t heavily invested in technology to being one of the leaders in the state in a very short time. Our middle school is the only SMART Showcase school in Indiana and our district was just named an Apple Distinguished School District. We’ve hosted more than 40 school districts across the state to see our 1:1 program, and we were awarded the Imagining and Creating Grant from the Indiana DoE last year. I was named the 2013 Technology Coordinator of the Year at the Hoosier Educational Computer Coordinators conference. We have stories of teachers who barely knew how to use a computer who now create their own digital curriculum, students who were below average who are now on the honor roll, and our test scores have risen. We know that technology isn’t the reason for this, but we feel the increased student engagement has led to better scores.”

Your biggest challenges?

“We went from a district that managed 700 or so desktop computers to one that manages 700 desktop computers, 1,650 iPads, and 120 laptops, which resulted in a lot of additional work. We had to hire additional IT help because of the increase in devices. There have been a number of technical challenges as we’ve transitioned iPads from a consumer device to an institutional device, and having students manage their own iTunes accounts has been more difficult than we expected. We aren’t used to students having accounts we can’t control, and we have no control over iTunes accounts.”

How might your initiative evolve over the next five years?

“It hasn’t even been four years since the original iPad came out, so who knows what will be out there five years from now? We are on the second year of a four-year lease, so we will be using these iPads for at least two more years after this one. Our main focus is having more teachers use the devices more often and for more things. From day one, we had teachers who had written their own curriculum, flipped classrooms, and were using the technology in amazing ways. The challenge now is turning that [number] of teachers from 15 to 100. We didn’t mandate the use of technology and we wanted everyone to go at their own pace, so naturally some have moved more quickly [than others]. We have invested heavily in PD for our teachers and will continue to do so throughout our 1:1 initiative to facilitate this process.”

How will your district sustain this initiative?

“We pay for our four-year lease through a combination of textbook and technology fees for students and capital projects funds. Our teachers have 30 minutes of PD time every Wednesday, and some of that [time] is used for technology issues. In addition, teachers have up to four days to spend with their departments. The building hires substitutes for an entire department and all of those teachers spend the day working on curriculum and technology issues together.”

Jay McPhail
Director of Innovation and Learner Engagement,
Riverside (CA) Unified School District

Describe your 1:1 program

“We are 1:1 access—not 1:1 computing,” says McPhail. “We don’t manage, control, or support in an enterprise fashion. We deliver access and resources based on student or family needs in more of a consumer fashion. Riverside has provided 28,000 devices for PreK-12 [students] for the last four years, and another 8,000–10,000 students [use] BYOT . We’ll always provide a subset of devices but that will continue to drop. Every Christmas we send out a flyer asking families to buy a tool instead of toy. Most of the curriculum is digital, and the district continues that push.”

What have been your biggest successes?

“We’ve turned the system to focus on the customer—the student—and shifted to personalized learning. As one of 20 U.S. districts selected by the Gates Foundation to define personalized learning, we are giving students choices so they have some control over path and pace. People said we were crazy to manage devices as we have, but we’ve proven them wrong. Kids at every level can take a device out, set it up, access cloud resources, and do tech support. We’ve built a base so children can access our resources as well as those beyond what we provide.”

Your biggest challenges?

“Trying to focus on the student. We distrust the kids across the entire system. Whatever your questions, you need to ask, ‘How does this affect the students?’ We often get asked about teachers. They are the delivery system to the clients; they are not the clients. We don’t make teachers use technology. It’s a tool, not an outcome. If everything is focused on the teacher and the teacher doesn’t move that forward, then that subset of kids are missing out. We must understand we’re in a competitive business to educate our children. If we don’t, it’s at our peril on multiple levels.”

How might your initiative evolve over the next five years?

“I think it will become even more student-centered. Today the device decisions, unless BYOD, are made by the school. [However,] it should be based on the end user’s learning style. If I’m artistically inclined I should follow that strand but still get math and language arts. No more one-size-fits-none. We will guide them to find the best choice for their needs and pathways. Technology will be endemic but transparent. It won’t be driving the conversation.”

How will your district sustain this initiative?

“I don’t know that we have any choice not to. Most of the device expense will be borne by families or students. We need to figure out what’s needed across the board and get rid of command and control. Maybe I kick in one-quarter of my network, but my students and staff have a network wherever they go. It’s a continual shift to a consumer model.”

Tom Murray
Director of Technology and Cyber Education,
Quakertown (PA ) Community School District

Describe your 1:1 program

“We’re in the fourth year. Approximately 1,800 students in grades 9-12 have HP ProBooks,” says Murray. “We started with the 9th grade and did a tremendous amount of professional development (PD) about blended learning. Students get their laptops during the first week of school and hand them back at the end of the year. In the second year, the 9th graders brought their laptops to 10th grade, and the new 9th graders received new devices. There’s a $35 usage fee each year, which is waived for families who receive free or reduced-priced lunch. After the fourth year, the student keeps the laptop. So for $140 over four years, a child has a good starting device to bring to college.”

What have been your biggest successes?

“We rolled out slowly, did PD one grade at a time, and now the entire high school has the tools and the capacity. Student achievement and graduation rates have gone up. We were one of three districts featured on Digital Learning Day 2013, won the Innovative Program Award for iNACO L for cyber/blended learning, and are a Project Red Signature District. I’m most proud of offering complete versatility for students. They can take regular classes, cyber classes, or a hybrid of both. Students can come and go throughout the day, mixing and matching between online and face-to-face classes based on what each student needs. I’m also proud of our differentiated PD. We gutted PD hours and removed them from the teacher contract. PD is no longer the traditional, top-down, ‘sitand- get’ [model.] It’s part of a personalized learning plan and our supervision process.”

Your biggest challenges?

“The instructional and paradigm shift from top to bottom—something that not every teacher has mastered. Teachers did not experience 1:1 [programs] in their training, so it can be hard for them to understand that a 1:1 [program] is not just putting a device in a child’s hand in a classroom. We’re helping them understand, visualize, and see the end result of a true blended learning environment and realize that moving to substitution does not improve anything. It’s our ultimate goal and biggest need.”

How might your initiative evolve over the next five years?

“I see a blended environment that personalizes learning for each student based on his or her needs. All teachers will have access to cyber courses for their face-to-face offerings so they can blend offerings based on individual need. I see a combination of BYOD and 1:1 [programs] so that any child and staff member can bring in any device and connect to the network. We will also explore ways to provide Internet access at home, such as district-owned hotspots.”

How will your district sustain this initiative?

In Pennsylvania, if a student leaves our district, that comes out of our budget. For each of the last four years we’ve brought back $200,000–$250,000 in students and our 1:1 costs are approximately the same. Essentially, one has saved enough money to pay for the other. I believe student achievement will continue to show the value in our investment. We’ll spend less on textbooks and traditional materials. In three years we’ve increased the capacity of machines by 250% and our budget has decreased. My goal is five years of a flat budget while increasing opportunities and learning experiences for our students.”

Mike Watson
Chief Information Officer, Tippecanoe (IN) School Corporation

Describe your 1:1 program

“The Tippecanoe 1-1 initiative is a multi-year process. Currently, we have approximately 4,000 HP 2700 series convertible Windows tablets in our two high schools. We are in our fourth year in this phase of our initiative,” says Watson.

What have been your biggest successes?

“I believe the most important successes have to do with culture. It’s not the technology that makes the difference, but the student learning that takes place 24/7 and what the students are able to accomplish with the technology. Students use their tablets throughout the curriculum and for communication with staff and other students. They are able to project their tablets individually on the interactive boards wirelessly from their seats and share in a totally new way. Assignments are submitted and graded online, assessments are administered online with effective feedback, and communication between staff and students has reached a new level. We have created student lounges where they can sit in comfortable couches and soft chairs to study individually or in collaborative groups. This type of freedom and trust is a direct result of the 1:1 [program] and creates a more collegiate, real-world atmosphere.”

Your biggest challenges?

“All students are required to have their tablets every period and [to have them] be fully functional. With all the things that can go wrong with technology—both hardware and software—this has been a challenge. We created a student repair and maintenance class in which students are trained to evaluate and fix tablets and assign students a loaner tablet while theirs is being fixed. This student help center is manned every period throughout the school day. This was a huge success and answer to a significant challenge to keep all students with a fully functioning tablet at all times.”

How might your initiative evolve over the next five years?

“We are now turning our focus to our 11 elementary and six middle schools. We believe it will take us two years to implement a 1:1 [program] for our 8,000 students in these grade levels. Again, we ask the question, ‘What do we want our younger students to know and do?’ and plan the initiative around instructionally sound and developmentally appropriate practices. We will choose the appropriate devices to accomplish this goal. They may not be the same device as we use in our high schools.”

How will your district sustain this initiative?

“With shrinking budgets and rising poverty levels, we are working on creative ways to sustain a K-8 initiative. We know the answer will be a multifaceted approach, combining district funds, student fees, leasing, and community support. As we did with our high school program, we will not rush into an instructional initiative without guaranteeing success and long-term sustainability. We don’t have all the answers yet, but through careful long-term planning we will, as a community, make this important instructional initiative happen. We are not as fast as some districts in implementing a K-8 program, but hope to be as successful with our younger students as we have been with our two high schools. We have been blessed with collaboration from other districts in developing our program and we try to share all we have learned with others also.”

Brandon Kostolni
Director of IT, School District of New Berlin (WI)

Describe your 1:1 program

“For the last three years, our district has adopted a ‘hybrid 1:1’ philosophy, providing near 1:1 access through a combination of district-owned devices and BYOD,” says Kostolni. “At this time, we provide approximately one device for every two students. We will continue to expand on the number of in-district devices. However, we do not have plans to move to a full 1:1 program.”

What have been your biggest successes?

“BYOD and 1:1 programs, by their very nature, require a shift from a mostly static, wired environment to a mobile environment supporting a very diverse set of clients. The creation of a robust, high-performance wireless network along with its supporting infrastructure has been critical to our success to this point.”

Your biggest challenges?

“One of our greatest challenges continues to be understanding how to maximize our utilization of computing power present in these mobile devices. A key component to doing this lies in the creation and delivery of content that is independent of a specific technology, allowing virtually any device to be used in our environment. Another ongoing challenge has been the creation of a secure environment supporting district-owned and personal devices while providing access to similar resources. The environment extends beyond the infrastructure and includes the development of a tech support model that efficiently and effectively supports both types of technology.”

How might your initiative evolve over the next five years?

“We expect to see a greater shift toward the use of personal devices over the next several years as the district continues to develop device-agnostic content. This will necessitate continued investment in infrastructure, including bandwidth and connectivity, which will be critical to providing continued access to online resources.”

How will your district sustain this initiative?

“Our strategic goal is to make sure that no device in our district is older than four years old,” says Lawrence Lueck, director of personalized learning. “To sustain this initiative, we have allocated budgetary funds to cycle through and replace older district-owned devices on an annual basis. We have also begun investigating options around a lease-to-own program for families. This would allow the district to utilize its purchasing power with our partners and offer families a low-cost option over time.”

The Future of 1:1 is 2:1

“Students are going to be bringing two, three, four, or more devices to campus with them. Ideally, every student arrives prepared to learn with a school-issued, 24/7 device. They then use their own device (or devices) in conjunction with the school-issued device to learn with the tech that’s best suited for the task. Many current administrators never taught in a 1:1 environment so they require training in how to support teachers and students in this environment. Teacher training on true integration between technology and curriculum is essential. Teacher training must demonstrate effective 1:1 pedagogy.

“Within the next few years, parents will expect successful 1:1 implementation as part of a quality education. Districts that can deploy exceptional programs are going to be highly sought after by parents; those that don’t can expect to see declining enrollment.”

—Robert Craven, Senior Director of Information Technology, Tustin (CA) Unified School District

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