Chejuana Martin, Shane Smith, James Tiggeman and Eduardo Alva from Irving Independent School District share their one-to-one expertise at TCEA 2023.

Jan 31 2023

TCEA 2023: Texas School District Shares 12 Tips for Success with a 1:1 Program

Diverse and economically disadvantaged Irving ISD pulls from its 20 years of experience starting and growing a student device program.

A team from Irving Independent School District led a session at TCEA 2023 sharing the lessons they have learned over the past 20 years of running a one-to-one program. Though their session was titled “A 20-Year Success Story of District-Wide 1:1,” James Tiggeman, assistant director of digital learning, admitted, “We haven’t had 20 years of success. There were bumps in the road, and we are happy to tell you what went wrong and how to fix it.”

In 2001, Irving ISD became one of the first school districts in the nation to implement a one-to-one student device program. Located northwest of Dallas, the district has more than 33,000 students, of which 71 percent are Hispanic, 12 percent are Black and 80 percent are economically disadvantaged.

Below are some of the tips and takeaways from the session:

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1: Professional Development for Teachers Is Key

“If you don’t start with professional development, then don’t even bother with the rest,” Shane Smith, director of technical services, told the room. “There is a myth that still exists today, it existed in 2001, that everybody knows how to use computers, and everybody’s got a phone nowadays so training isn’t necessary. You’ve got to train your teachers on how to use the device.”

Irving team members learned firsthand the value of professional development. When they rolled out one-to-one at their first school, they had intentional professional development. However, when they continued the initiative at other schools, they did not provide PD, and there was a stark difference in outcomes. They noticed lower device use among students and teachers and a damage rate so high that they stopped sending the devices home with students.

RELATED: Use these professional development tips to improve teacher retention.

2: Get Outside Support for Your District

In 2017, Irving added five of their schools to the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program. The program provided training and gave each student a device and home internet.

With PD built into the program, the Irving staff began to notice a dramatic difference among teachers and students. Soon, students were able to take their devices home again.

3: Get Leadership Buy-In on Technology

“Get your principal on board,” Tiggeman advised, explaining that often principals might not fully understand the value of technology in the classroom. “Your principal needs to know that student devices are teaching tools.”

James Tiggeman
Get your principal on board. Your principal needs to know that student devices are teaching tools.”

James Tiggeman Assistant Director of Digital Learning Services, Irving Independent School District

4: Invest in Appropriate Staff Support

The Irving ISD team also noted that having highly trained staff was essential to their success. The district ensured that there were enough digital learning coaches or librarians who could teach students and staff how to use and maintain the devices. Certified campus technicians were also available to handle asset management and in-house repairs.

DISCOVER MORE: Learn how one former CTO supports digital equity.

5: Provide Backup Devices for Students

Student devices are integrated into Irving ISD’s curriculum, so when a student damages or loses a device, he or she doesn’t have to wait for the device to be repaired. The IT team always has extra devices that are charged and ready to go.

6: Teach Parents and Students to Take Responsibility for Devices

One question that came up during the session was how to address students who repeatedly and intentionally damage their devices. Taking away devices from students is not the answer, the presenters said. Doing so can affect the entire class, not just the careless students, as the teacher may decide to stop using technology in the classroom instead of preparing alternative lesson plans that don’t depend on technology.

To encourage student accountability, the district asks parents to sign a document agreeing to pay for the device if it is damaged, said Chejuana Martin, district digital learning coach. When Irving ISD staff enforce that agreement, parents tend to ensure their students take better care of their devices going forward.

7: Charging Carts Reduce Excuses

The IT team noticed that the first year Chromebook carts were placed in freshman or sophomore classes, one particular barrier to learning was removed: Students who forgot to bring their chargers were still able to use their devices. That prompted the district to expand the deployment of charging carts to the rest of its classrooms.

READ MORE: 5 tips for optimizing storage and charging carts.

8: Train Students to Provide Frontline Tech Support

When Irving ISD discovered that its middle and high school students could do basic troubleshooting, the district decided to add them to the tech team. “We trained students on how to swap a screen on a device or clean up the devices,” explained Eduardo Alva, digital learning coach. “We are also teaching them life skills. After graduating, they usually come back and become campus technicians.”

9: Implement an Asset Management System

The IT team also found value in having asset management software that allowed them to track devices using International Mobile Equipment Identity numbers, phone numbers, names and more. Smith explained that some students are transient; to counter device loss when parent living situations change, the district had to implement an asset management system.

The tool has helped the district locate lost or stolen devices. “Lock down your devices immediately when you know they’re missing,” Smith advised. “I call it the ‘first 48.’ Within the first 48 hours, you might get that Chromebook back, but after that, your odds of retrieving the drive substantially go down.”

DIVE DEEPER: Learn how asset tags can help districts find lost devices.

10: Have a Device Collection Plan

The team also recommended having a plan for collecting devices at the end of the school year. “You won’t use the same process to collect 10 devices in a classroom as you would for collecting 33,000 devices,” Alva said.

Each year, the team plans ahead and uses a hybrid model, asking upper-level tech students and teachers to collect devices and chargers. The district also provides a drop-off location. Once the devices are in hand, campus tech staff evaluates the devices to see which ones need repair.

MORE ON EDTECH: Use data analytics tools to show ed tech’s impact.

11: Data Can Help Coaches and Teachers Understand Usage Patterns

Tiggeman says ClassLink and Canvas give his team a lot of data on how students are using their devices. With that data, the district can see how students are progressing through the learning modules, and teachers can adjust lesson plans if needed.

12: Make a Lifecycle Management Plan

To ensure that the district has a viable device for every student, the Irving ISD team also integrates a lifecycle management plan into its purchase decisions. IT leaders work with the district’s device partners to find out when new processors and operating systems will be available to ensure they’re buying devices that will last for a long time.

Join EdTech as we provide written coverage of TCEA 2023. Bookmark this page and follow us on Twitter @EdTech_K12.

Photography by Taashi Rowe

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