From the Principal's Office: Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 iPads, Part Two

One of the big questions that is asked about our iPad initiative at BHS is - What are the goals of the initiative and how do you know if it is successful or not? My response to this question is not meant to be evasive, but I do think if this question is being asked too much that we did not do a good job communicating up front about this initiative.

The biggest point we want to reiterate is that technology by itself will not have a significant impact in our schools. I mentioned this last week in a post referring to Jim Collins' book Good to Great.

"Technology alone is not going to move an organization or an individual from Good to Great. However, technology that is thoughtfully deployed can help us move a bit faster. "

We continue to focus on higher levels of student engagement as a primary target in all classrooms and our work in this area will continue. We believe strongly that students having access to a web-enabled device will allow us to increase the qualities of an engaged classroom as described by Phil Schlechty (below).

  • Personal Response - More than one right answer
  • Clear/Modeled Expectations - Student knows what success "looks like"
  • Emotional/Intellectual Safety - Freedom to take risks
  • Learning with Others (Affiliation) - Learning has a social component
  • Sense of Audience - Student work is shared
  • Choice - Students have meaningful options
  • Novelty and Variety - Learning experiences are unusual or unexpected
  • Authenticity - Connections to experience or prior learning

It is important to note that this is work that started well beyond the distribution of iPads. However, we feel that the access that is no provided opens up a number of additional access points to these engaging qualities.

cross-posted at

Patrick Larkin is the Assistant Superintendent for Learning of Burlington Public Schools in Burlington, MA and the former principal of Burlington High. He blogs about education at