A Learning Device For Every Student – Part III – Getting everyone on board

So we decided that 1:1 iPad was the way to go Read here how we made this decision.

Next step was the most important step to take: plan. What do you need to think of before you welcome students with iPad in your class? A lot!

Apple provides with a good framework to bring an iPad implementation to a good end. They call it ‘Eight Elements for Success’ and they’ve published it as a free resource on the iBookstore.

The book guides your team through essential questions you need to answer before and during your implementation.

Let’s discuss some of the elements.

Professional Learning

On the pedagogical side, it is quite obvious that staff needs to be trained in the use of iPad.

Before you train your staff, they need to get a device. We agreed that iPad is the best suitable solution for our students. We don’t agree that it is the best device for a teacher. There are some tasks where a teacher benefits more from using a desktop class computer. Nevertheless, we need to give each teachers an iPad: they need to build expertise in the use of it. To build this expertise, we created a PD program that started right after our Christmas break (teachers received their iPad just before the break). The program is not compulsory and consists of small lunch break sessions, workshops that last 90 minutes or three hours, walk in 1:1 training, a website with loads of inspiration, apps and other things.

These sessions include what we’ve called First Aid With iPad, a course for novice iPad users (yes, we have loads of them) with essential skills like personalising the device, camera use, getting to know the keyboard, accessibility features and much more. It also included SOS with iPad: What if it goes wrong?: a brief course on troubleshooting tech issues.

Much more important is pedagogical training: How do we design new learning activities with iPad? How do we create better learning experiences?

Thankfully great assistance is available. I’d like to give a big shout out to the team behind The Joy Of Professional Learning. They create amazing resources on providing the best professional learning. We also have loads of help from the ICT Atelier team in Belgium. These trainers are the best you can get.

Community (and communication) & Team

You need to get as much people that are ‘affected’ by the program involved as possible. That’s why we expanded our internal task force twice, informed the complete staff a month before we did the teacher roll-out and informed the students and parents half way through our preparation period.

It was surprising how little resistance we had. Personally, I was very anxious about the response we’d get from colleagues and especially parents. Some colleagues surprised me (in positive and other ways), but I was struck by the good reception we had from parents.

In our planning we decided that staring with the whole school was a little bit of a too big step. So we selected our first grade (12y olds) and fourth grade to be the pioneers in this project. The first graders are new students to our school. Last Sunday we started the enrolment for next school year during our Open School Day. Surprisingly all seats were filled after a few hours. I guess this means parents are backing our decision!

We also created a web page to inform anyone about our 1:1 initiative. You can read it here in Dutch. It includes a video of the event we did for our third grade parents and FAQs.

Environment Design

IT infrastructure. Yes, you might think it is boring, but it is essential. Don’t slim down on WiFi. You need it and you need a lot of bandwidth. Use Caching Server too.

But it is more than that: rethink classrooms and your school lay-out. Do we have need for rows of tables? A blackboard in front of the classroom? Do we want to project the iPad screens?

And then software: how do we manage the iPads? MDM is your friend! We chose Zuludesk to manage our devices. Apple provides with good guidelines on MDM to help you.

Student Learning

I cannot repeat it enough: it’s not about the device, it’s about the learning. How do we create a culture of learning, bring intrinsic motivation to students?

We don’t want forget this item, but for the moment it seems we are stuck in finding apps and ways to enhance our existing teaching strategies. It is imperative that our teaching activities evolve . We are already seeing great initiatives, so we are confident that this train is also starting to roll. But like any train, they don’t take a jump start.

Next time: planning the roll-out. Yes, my dear tech geeks: this one’s for you!!

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