Sep 07 2018

Experts Weigh in on Key Considerations for K–12 1:1 Programs

What important questions should you be asking in order to guarantee a successful personal device rollout?

Before implementing a one-to-one device program, school districts should have a well-structured integration plan in place, according to experts at the International Society for Technology in Education 2018 conference earlier this year.

From training teachers to choosing the right network, bringing personal devices into the classroom is a lot of work. But, done correctly, there can be many rewards. 

Schools May Miss Important Internet Questions

When schools are configuring their networks to support a one-to-one program, IT teams need to delve deep into their current infrastructure to understand what needs to be changed.

“You also have to think about the different kinds of Wi-Fi,” says Scott Harris, technology director for Missouri’s Neosho School District. “Are they going to be [802.11]ac, which is the real fast Wi-Fi? And are your access points able to do that?”

If your infrastructure cannot handle the lift of a one-to-one device program, your school may want to invest in assessing and refreshing its network. 

In New York, the Beekmantown Central School District did just that, investing in Cisco Power over Ethernet switches and 802.11ac access points in order to prepare for their one-to-one program.

Prepare Your Teachers for What’s Ahead

It’s not enough to give teachers a stack of devices and ask them to put them into the curriculum, says Mike Ribble, director of technology for the Manhattan-Ogden Unified School District in Kansas. You have to take a moment to get to know the faculty you’re dealing with.

“When you’re trying to get started in a one-to-one, I think you really need to do your homework, spend your time understanding who your players are,” Ribble tells EdTech . “Even though we worked with our teachers beforehand, I think it was different for them once they had [devices] in their hands.”

At the Innovation in Digital Education and Leadership Institute, schools looking to successfully plan a training program should give teachers plenty of time to work with the tech, stick with a few specific initiatives and have a clear vision educators will be able to follow. 

Schools can also take advantage of online resources for training programs. For example, for teachers introducing Chromebooks into the classroom, Google offers a number of training videos through its Teacher Center.

Think About Device Use Outside of the Classroom

It’s somewhat easy for schools to keep a watchful eye on device use and management when students are in class, but what happens when students take their devices home?

Schools need to consider issues including insurance and how students will get onto the internet to do their work, says Ribble. 

The issue of internet access is especially important. The “homework gap,” a widening split in academic success between students who have internet access at home and students, usually from low-income households, who do not, is a pervasive issue among K–12 school districts interested in one-to-one device initiatives.

For some districts, the answer has been to equip school buses with Wi-Fi access. Others are creating maps for students to find free Wi-Fi zones in their areas, District Administration reports. Administrators can also apply for grants specifically designed to help combat the digital divide to help augment government funding.

It’s also important for schools to create rules for how students should be using their devices when they are not on school property, says David Andrade, a K–12 education strategist for CDW-G. 

“Who’s responsible for its damage? Are you monitoring what the students are doing at home? Are you filtering what they are able to access on that device no matter where they got it? Or is it when they are at home, it’s left up to the parents?” Andrade says these are questions schools should be asking themselves. 

Learning from schools who have already successfully rolled out a device program or bringing in a third party as an adviser can be extremely helpful, says Andrade.

Todor Tsvetkov/Getty Images

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