Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hidden Key To Successful 1:1

Our Brand New Eisenhower High School

The past month and a half I have been working on getting started on my new position in my school district.   One of our high schools, Eisenhower High School, has just opened a brand new building as of January 22.    The students are excited, the staff is rejuvenated, and the entire community is excited.   If that isn't enough, we are also going 1:1 with MacBook Airs this coming August.   Because of all of these changes the district decided that they needed an Instructional Technology Coach full time at this new high school.   How could I not apply for this position??  New beautiful building, a secondary environment, AND 1:1 with Airs!  The past year, however, the amazing team of Instructional Technology Coaches (see their blogs here here and here)  (see their Twitter accounts here here here here here here , District Leaders, and the IT department have been working together to figure how to roll this 1:1 out the best we can.  I have been reflecting a lot these past few weeks on what makes a 1:1 program successful.   I have blogged a lot about professional development, and the role of leadership.   This week I have been thinking and seeing how important the IT department is in this roll out.   Without IT support and the appropriate infrastructure 1:1 will not work.
Students working in Google Drive in a Classroom
We are INCREDIBLY luck in Decatur Public Schools.   Our IT department is on board with the 1:1 vision and works ridiculously hard to support the instruction.   The journey to where we are right now has been long.   To get here we have researched, visited district where 1:1 is working, and had many meetings to discuss what we have learned and see.   The IT department has participated in every moment.   From Visiting Minnetonka in Minnesota, to South Berwyn just outside of Chicago, the IT department has seen why 1:1 is important for instruction, and what the districts need to support this instruction.  When we meet to talk about how we will roll out IT understand what good instruction should look like and they work really hard to make the technology allow what we need.  We purchased more bandwidth, installed more routers, and changed the way our wireless filter works so that students as staff are both safe and can access the tools we need.   They are amazing!
If your district is looking to go 1:1 be sure you both have at IT department to support the amount of devices, and include them in every step along the way.   Imagine buying 500 ipads, but none can connect to wifi.   Or you have enough wifi, but your filter will not allow YouTube, and websites students need for research.  Or worse yet, a filter that will allow students to go anywhere, even sites that are not safe or in line with CIPA.
So to sum up, there is a lot to think of before going 1:1.  All stakeholders need to be involved in the decision from Teachers, Leaders, Professional Development, and IT.   If your district is considering this, be sure to speak to your IT department and make them a priority moving forward.  

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