From the Field
Lamoille Union Middle/High School
The goals of the Lancer One Project; Universal Access, Spontaneous Learning, Equity, and Personalized Learning, were established to help meet the needs of students in rural Vermont where 48% of the population qualifies for free and reduced lunch and changes in teaching and learning were needed to increase student success. The district upgraded the school’s broadband infrastructure and provided each student with a tablet to help meet these goals.
The students played an important role in the development and implementation of the Lancer One project, advocating for the project to the school board, guiding the decision-making, logistics and support of the devices. This initiative shifted instruction to more of a project based focus that gave students a new vision of learning. A review team collects data from teachers and students through interviews, observation, and surveys to support a continual improvement process. In the classroom and at home, students describe their opportunities as transformative. Students have increased access to teacher and classroom materials, they have taken ownership over learning, data and grades are shared more frequently and students find easier access to opportunities and connections outside their school community. In the February 2014 survey, 85.4% of students responded that they could, “find information, and learn new skills anytime, anywhere”. Only 40% of our students responded that they could do this prior to the Lancer One program.
From the Field
Hawaii: 1:1 Access Program
The Hawaii State Department of Education’s (HIDOE) Access Learning pilot project focuses on providing schools with support and resources to use technology as a tool to transform teaching and learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. Schools applied and were selected based on their network capacity, readiness to implement large scale school-wide change, ability to participate in professional development, identification of a school level project team, sufficient on-site technology coordinator support, and capacity to participate in the project evaluation. Schools received one device per student and teacher, and a spare pool of equipment equivalent to six percent of their total device count.
Schools and districts vary in their approach to deployment of devices depending on budget considerations and needs assessments., but most schools organize a small pilot program prior to launching a large-scale deployment to learn about all phases of the process, including training and professional learning needs, network capacity and student response. Some districts choose to distribute devices grade-by-grade or content area and others distribute devices to the entire school. The advantage of a focused approach is having the ability to build staff capacity, track any roadblocks and shift implementation plans as needed. With lessons learned, grade levels, content areas or schools can be added on a rolling basis.
Traditionally, school districts have been responsible for providing instructional materials for students and teachers, and thus have owned digital devices either through outright purchase or through a lease/lease purchase arrangement. As technology has become more pervasive in the home and more students have their own devices, some schools have begun allowing students to bring personal technology devices to school for educational purposes under the direction of teachers and administrators. Such programs are called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). Typically these programs do provide district-owned devices to students who do not have access to a personal device.
While BYOD can ease budget pressures by relying to some degree on not having to purchase technology for every student, each school will still need to plan to purchase devices for the students who cannot afford them. In addition, BYOD programs with various devices from home can raise concerns regarding network security and classroom management of a variety of devices with different operating systems. Tech support can also become more complicated. If a student-owned device has technical problems, the tech support staff may not have the necessary background knowledge of the device and operating system to easily solve the problem. Policies for tech support should clearly spell out whether or not the district will support student-owned devices. Some districts define what types of devices they will support, and parents rely on those policies to inform purchasing decisions for their children.
Another consideration in any such program is whether or not students will be allowed to take home school-issued devices. Student age, academic needs and school budgets may each be part of the decision making process. If student-owned devices are used in a school, consideration must be provided for at-home access for students using school-issued devices. A high priority in decision-making is having clear policies and procedures around technical support, especially if it will be provided after school hours. Once the decision is announced, schools need to share the details regarding the device access and all guiding policies with all stakeholders.