Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our Journey to 1:1

Our Journey to 1:1

For the benefit of schools contemplating going 1:1, I've decided to chronicle my school's journey. When appropriate, I will share actual documents that we shared with the school board and community.

Our journey started when my school hired a excellent leader as a Superintendent. As he looked around our school, he realized that we were a bit behind in technology from other schools in our area and started to seek input on what we could do to close that gap. The most fortuitous thing happened when the Principal at the time, forwarded an email he had received about a device called Kuno. Since we were just starting to look at  1:1, so we invited the salesperson to visit the school, what happened then was amazing.

I walked in to that meeting thinking there was no way we could go to 1:1 because of the limited amount of time that our technology coordinator has available, but it wasn't long before I was convinced that it was an option. The Kuno is nearly locked down from student intervention so they can focus on educational usage. Only administrators can install apps. Best of all, there is a CIPA filter loaded at the kernel level, so students are safe.

Even better than that, teachers are able to push out information to students via CurriculumLoft and students can directly send assignments back to the teacher. All information is downloaded directly on the device so even if the student doesn't have the Internet at home, they are able to watch videos and keep up on work. This is a game-changer.

I first presented to the board in May of 2012:

1:1 Computing at North Tama
At the beginning of the year, approximately 25% of schools in Iowa were using 1:1 technology in their school and that number is expected to grow significantly every year.  In order to remain competitive with other schools, we need to look at what being 1:1 could mean for us. Even more importantly, however, it is important for us to make moves to strengthen our curriculum as well as prepare students for the careers they will have in the future.
The teachers and administration had a visit from Jeromy Franks and Monte Davis and were presented with an alternative that would work well for our school, Curriculum Loft and Kuno device. Teachers were very excited by the thought of moving forward.

Our plan of putting our curriculum on Curriculum Loft and purchasing devices to share work with students has these benefits:
--Creates 21st Century Learners
--Demands collaboration between students & students and students & teachers
--Promotes student engagement
--Reduces textbooks and worksheets
--Guides students in the production of knowledge (an AIW goal)
--Opens opportunities for education at all levels in our community.
--Allows access to current information and a means to manipulate information in ways that connect it in meaningful ways
--Increases enthusiasm due to the ability to use the web and other technological sites
--Promotes student pride through creative opportunities as opposed to textbook and worksheet assignments
--Improves students’ ability to self-assess and set learning goals
--Increases interactive possibilities with teachers and other students
Teachers will be able to:
--Help students learn to manage their time and projects
--Teach laptop/computer ethnical and responsible usage of technology
--Assign tasks of inquiry, collaboration, research, and polished/published writing knowing that students have the needed resources
--Provide student opportunities including independent learning and practice
--Collaborate through interdisciplinary teaching and online professional development
--Provide practice, review sessions, additional readings and differentiated learning for all students
--Include the instructional component of the Iowa Core Curriculum which addresses the principles of “Challenge-Based Learning.” Challenge-Based Learning is differentiated, project-based learning during which students collaborate on problem-based, real world situations and solutions.

Our faculty is 100% committed to adapting our current curriculum to include new technologies. In a recent survey, 95% of teachers said they would volunteer to come in over the summer to learn the curricular part of the 1:1 device if it would help adoption move quicker.  

The board was intrigued, but cautious. This was all so new to our school. The board suggested we take a look at some other devices. The board did spend a considerable amount of money last summer upgrading our infrastructure to better support any change in our school system. 

We looked at ByteSpeed devices, iPads, and briefly at Chromebooks. For our needs, Chromebooks were dismissed almost immediately because of the online nature of the device.  We looked much more seriously at the iPad. Many of us on the tech committee were Apple fans, but in the end, the Kuno won out. Below is what we presented to the board.

I created a spreadsheet that compared the quotes from Apple and Kuno/Curriculum Loft and Kuno was also less expensive.

We submitted this to the board to share our findings:

After visiting two schools, and researching four different products, the NT Secondary Technology Team recommends the purchase of Curriculum Loft and the Kuno device to begin our 1:1 program at North Tama. We would like to request the board make a commitment to this so we may start loading the Curriculum Loft with content during the second semester, order devices for teachers before the end of the year, and be fully implemented in the fall of 2013 with students 7-12. We wish to be a model school for learning with the use of technology.

Curricular Rationale:
*The use of Curriculum Loft offers ease of maintaining content, ease of showing Iowa Common Core progress and artifacts that meet standards, ability for cross curricular sharing, and transparency of curriculum to interested parties.

*The Curriculum Loft affords us ease in pushing content to tablets and removing content from tablets later.

*Teachers are currently reporting compliance with the Iowa Core Curriculum using the ICAT checklist as a tool. Going to Curriculum Loft will allow teachers to assign standards to a lesson and then the district can look at the mapped curriculum and locate gaps in instruction. The district is currently looking at additional programs like Curriculum Mapper, which is a multi-thousand dollar program.  The Curriculum Loft has this built in. Full implementation of the Iowa Core for grades 9-12 in required by July 1, 2012, and grades K-8 by 2014-2015.

*Everyone on the technology team is a fan of the  iPad as a consumer product and there is no disputing Apple’s legendary respect in the world. However, the Kuno was designed as an educational tool and was created to compliment the Curriculum Loft. Many of the teachers we talked to at Cardinal alluded to the tablet as an educational tool for getting content to students and engaging them without the hassle and worry about security.  

Staffing Rationale:
*The iPad and ByteSpeed sales people recommended that North Tama would need a full time staff member to deal with all the tech issues involved with deploying their solutions.  So that would be a large additional expense to the transition to 1:1.  

Security Rationale:
*The feature of the Kuno that truly sets it apart from the other devices we examined is the ability for the school to retain complete control of the device so students are focused on educational usage.
*The Kuno comes with a kernel level LightSpeed filter. Kernel level means that it can’t be disabled by a student (a feature no other device has)
*Only system administrators can add Apps (programs) to the devices, which would mean students can’t add games and other distractors.

What came next was the most amazing part of this process. The board suggested a "Work Session" where community members could come and share their thoughts. Over seventy people attended that meeting and spoke passionately about the need for 1:1 in our school. I personally have been to many meetings where people spoke passionately about music or sports, but that was the first time where people were very vocal about wanting to change the education system. I am grateful to the community and the school board for that opportunity.

The next Monday night, the school board voted unanimously to purchase the devices and more infrastructure and go 1:1 next year for 7-12. None of this would have happened without a visionary administrative team and a school board who wants our students to be successful. The technology team did a great deal of work to make it all happen and spent a lot of time after school hours.

I actually got to hold the check for the entire program and it was an exhilarating feeling. We all had worked so hard that it felt like the beginning of something amazing.

We set up our CurriculumLoft last Tuesday via a webinar. The high school secretary was AMAZING in getting everything we needed to make it happen. Teachers attended a webinar on Wednesday to learn how to post content in the cloud and we are under way. The devices for teachers were handed out on Thursday and the excitement in the air is building. Every time I walked around the school with one of the boxes, the students excitedly asked questions.

I need to mention the awesome support we have received from CurriculumLoft through the entire process, especially from Jeromy Franks. Jeromy traveled to North Tama three times to make this happen. Since we have started, the staff at CurriculumLoft has been absolutely amazing at answering questions and keeping us supported (I joked that he was one trip away from getting keys to the school). Katie, Matt, and Melissa are rockstars! Today is Sunday and I actually got an answer to a question this morning!

We were helped on our journey with guidance by another Iowa school, Cardinal. Mr. Chamberlain & Mr. Pederson were a huge help in leading us through the process. They provided us a lot of information on best practice.

That's our story. Stay tuned for the great shift to follow!

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