We started our iPad 1:1 program with our middle school students 4 years ago. If given the chance to reset and do it all over again, here are the top five things that I would make sure to do.
- Know why you are going 1:1 before you get to far into the process.
If you are going 1:1 to replace textbooks or as a direct substitute for existing educational technology tools, then you are wasting your time and money. iPads, and any 1:1 initiative, should transform your learning environment. It should also change the way teachers teach. Which leads me to #2.
- Provide teachers planning, and professional development time.
When we first started, we gave our teachers about 5 months to prepare. It just wasn’t enough time. At that time, were one of the first schools to go with iPads in a 1:1 environment, so there were hardly any resources available. I would make sure to provide teachers with a good base of understanding of how the iPad works, with time for them to play and meet with each other on a semi-regular basis. I would introduce teachers to the SAMR model of technology integration. I would have faculty meetings to brainstorm and rework curriculum based on using the SAMR model. Send a few teachers to some conference or training that specifically covers iPad integration. There is so much more available to schools and teachers now.
- Establish a “program”.
Meaning, set up rules and guidelines that everyone adheres to. This should cover everything from etiquette to appropriate time for usage both in and out of the classroom. The image to the right has our our current iPad policies. We review this at the end of every school year or sooner if needed. Establishing a program should also include a learning management system (LMS). An LMS will help you with consistent delivery of information to your students. We currently use Google Classroom, but there are a ton of great LMS options to choose from. Schoology, Haiku and Canvas are a few that we have tried.
- Include parents and students in the process.
I am not suggesting that parents or students should make the decisions when it comes to implementing changes at your school. However, they are voices that need to be heard. If you can’t reasonably answer most of the parental concerns then you might want to rethink what your are doing. The student voice is also important, since they will be the ones carrying around these little powerhouse devices. They should be part of how the devices are going to be used at school. There is no better way to get student buy in than to have them be part of the process. Our student government plays a major role in establishing the policies that were created for our iPad program.
- Establish a Digital Literacy class for both teachers, students and parents.
Contrary to popular belief, young people are not digital natives. If they were, then they wouldn’t make so many mistakes in online spaces. This class will help you establish a baseline of skills that the teachers all know and can expect the students to be able to use in their classroom. The skills can range from how to manage the storage on your device to what is the best workflow for turning in work to digital citizenship.
I could go on for days. What do you think are vital and important for establishing a 1:1 program? What am I missing?