As one of the largest alternative education schools in Colorado, we have designed a model at GOAL Academy to help at-risk high school students become productive members of society.
The biggest challenge we face is how we bring every student along and how technology can enable that process. If we “teach to the middle,” then we lose students at the back, because they don't have the skills necessary to progress to the next lesson. Conversely, students who are ahead get bored and start acting out.
We needed classroom devices that would provide the flexibility to enable varied starting points for every student. We also needed a management platform that scaled to the demands of our resource-constrained IT department.
That's why this year, we decided to provide a Microsoft computer for every student and teacher. We have more than 3,800 students who we must develop academically, socially and emotionally, using these devices as the cornerstone of our education model. Microsoft’s tools help us do just that and maintain order from an IT perspective.
Tools Provide Real-World Skills and IT Management
At GOAL, we take pride in our culture of collaboration and recognize this is an important skill set in the real world. That is why we included Microsoft Teams on every device.
Teams brings us together to collaborate in ways we never imagined before. It has improved our staff communication and reduced each teacher’s time required to stay organized in the classroom. Teachers love it and students are embracing interpersonal communication stemming from dialogs started on Teams to help them solidify their understanding of the curriculum.
As GOAL’s IT leader, I am constantly on the lookout for potential pitfalls enabling network and internet access. As a blended school that provides most educational content online, how do I balance enablement across the student population while locking down the devices with an appropriate level of security and control?
To that end, Microsoft Intune for Education has helped immensely by simplifying the time required to maintain control of security and apps installed on each device. This level of granular access and policy control lets my staff know what we have deployed and ensures that teachers get the latest apps required to teach their curriculum.
As we educate the next generation, we believe we have the right vision to enable less fortunate and at-risk students to become contributing members of society. But to achieve that, we need the right curriculum, culture and technology in place.