1-1 iPad initiative
During the spring of 2011, the Inman Junior/Senior High School staff and technology committee began having a number of collaborative conversations regarding how technology was being utilized as a tool for learning with students. As a result of that dialogue, staff identified five key issues relating to the existing use of aging windows based laptop carts: 1) start-up time with laptops--staff members noted that it was taking an average of 5 minutes per class period to get machines up and running equating to approximately 35 minutes of lost instructional time; 2) ease of connectivity to the network--even after many hours of upgrades and trouble shooting, laptops continued to have issues with connecting to the network, thus creating frustration and additional loss of instructional time; 3) laptop battery life as the day progressed--by third or fourth hour, if laptops had been used earlier in the day, we consistently fought battery issues; 4) size and portability of the existing laptops--carts are bulky and have to be moved every hour along with the laptops taking up lots of space; and 5) lack of a consistent device for both students and staff to utilize as a tool for learning--students had access to two different types of laptops along with staff having a different machine all contributed to a lack of consistency and ease of use issues. Finally, students had a vested interest in the care and use of the device that they used on a daily basis.
The technology committee and building principal worked collaboratively to identify the existing roadblocks that staff members were facing as it related to technology integration and through that process came to the conclusion that some type of 1-1 computing environment would be most beneficial to our staff and students. Following a brief presentation to the board of education, board members supported the idea of a 1-1 concept with the stipulation that it needed to be accomplished within the confines of the existing budget. The superintendent provided the technology committee with 4 options/possibilities of moving the district to a 1-1 environment for students in grades 9-12. At that point in time, the iPad 2 had just been released (March 2011). Although the iPad movement was just getting started, a successful Title I and pre-k through 2 iPad initiative had been established earlier in the year which had created a vision and a model for the possibilities the iPad could offer. Following a presentation of options to the technology committee regarding the iPad, the committee requested a skype call with Apple to learn more about the power and potential of the iPad. Once some general questions were answered (May 2011), staff members, wholeheartedly supported the transition to iPads for the 2011-12 school year. One key concern from staff was the need for professional development and the need to have iPads in staff hands as soon as possible. Staff iPads were ordered and in teachers hands by June 10 and students were released one day early to allow staff to attend a one day iPad staff development during the summer of 2011.
The 2011-12 school year was extremely successful and rewarding. The 1-1 iPad initiative in grades 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12 dramatically exceeded our expectations as it related to appropriate integration of technology into the classroom. First, the iPad is an extremely powerful learning tool. Early on in the process we heard, from those who were skeptical of the iPads, that the iPad was simply a consumption device. We were able to dispel this myth based upon the wide variety of products and activities that staff and students were able to produce. Secondly, the ease of use of the iPad allowed both staff and students to learn new concepts quickly and as needed. One of the unintended consequences of the iPad initiative is that it has improved staff collaboration and their ability to troubleshoot technology problems. Staff members have embraced the concept and are very willing to share their knowledge and expertise with each other. This has, in my opinion, improved the collaborative culture in our building, creating an environment where teachers are willing to share, problem solve, and help one another to effectively utilize technology as a tool for learning. End of year survey results from students indicated they had embraced the iPad concept and their top three iPad reasons for embracing the iPads were : 1) improved organization--having all of their information in one place; 2) access to a personal learning device 24/7, and; 3) having the tools to complete projects, organize work, and complete assignments.
Being one of the first two schools in Kansas to deploy a 1-1 iPad initiative has been a rewarding and energizing experience. It seemed that we had many more questions than answers as we began the school year, however as the year came to an end, many of those questions had been answered. The success of the school year could not have been accomplished without the support and “can do” attitude that was embraced by the entire staff. Specific “lessons learned” that should be on school’s radar wishing to move to a 1-1 iPad initiative would be: ensuring that you provide appropriate professional development to your staff; properly plan for implementation but don’t over plan--be flexible; purchase good cases that cover the corners of the iPad; support staff members with appropriate financial (iTunes cards) and technology support; create an environment that supports change and innovation, and finally allow staff members the freedom and professional courtesy necessary to make the project a success.