TCEA 2018: Tech Upgrades Begin with Professional Development

Laying the foundation with PD allows Aldine Independent School District to be ready for Chromebooks, interactive whiteboards and more.

The foundation to Aldine Independent School District’s recent massive technology and classroom upgrades was cemented by first supporting teachers and administrators.

“Five years ago, we had minimal technology in our classrooms,” Nguyen Bui, the district’s executive director of technology innovation and initiatives, said during a Feb. 7 session at the Texas Computer Education Association Convention & Exposition. “The bandwidth in each classroom was 1 gigabyte. Every one of our schools had only two access points.”

With the help of a local bond and E-rate funding, the Texas public school district serving more than 67,000 students and covering portions of Houston and Harris County, embarked on an ambitious three-year technology plan to put devices into the hands of every student, teacher and administrator. But, that wasn’t going to happen without professional development and coaching first, Bui said.

“We knew the biggest audience that needed help was teachers,” he said, adding that there are 11,000 teachers in the district and a little more than 100 administrators on 76 campuses and in five admin buildings.

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Professional Development Bolsters Tech Success

Aldine designed two PD programs — Innovate Academy and Level Up — as ongoing training tools.

Bui said the district distributed devices by setting goals in the Level Up Learner badge program. Teachers received devices after they completed the first level of the program, and some schools are now requiring new hires to take the course as part of the hiring process, Bui said.

The program has been highly successful. As a result of Innovate Academy and Level Up, Aldine now has more than 93,000 active Google accounts and 37,582 Chromebooks in use, he said.

“This translated to teachers creating a learning environment where students are empowered to utilize digital tools to create solutions,” said Mike Patterson, an education strategist with CDW•G, who helped Aldine leaders with their technology rollout.

“We’ve had 80 percent fewer help tickets after implementing the course,” Bui added.

The district partnered with engage2learn to design and facilitate the Innovate Academy concept and focus on coaching and training teachers and campus leaders.

“The coaching is where the magic happens,” said Albert Martinez, partnership strategist with engage2learn. “Coaching is one-to-one and focuses on pedagogy and content. We follow up with individualized coaching throughout the year.”

As the final part of the program, Aldine called on CDW•G to help implement their technology plan, as well as develop their modern learning environment, which includes back-end technology, Chromebooks, flexible furniture and interactive whiteboards.

Check out how E-rate funding can help you innovate education.

EdTech will feature articles on breakout sessions and the latest trends from TCEA 2018. Check out more of our coverage on the TCEA 2018 conference page.

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Feb 07 2018