Smooth device rollouts don't happen on their own
- Devices such as Chromebooks, which have become increasingly popular in classrooms for their versatility and low price points, can offer a number of benefits in the classroom, but getting the most out of them requires more than simply putting them in students' hands.
- As a number of experts told Ed Tech: Focus on K-12, some of the keys to a successful rollout include ensuring your network and internet capacity are up to par, giving teachers adequate professional learning and ongoing IT support so they know how to best use them, and abandoning old curriculum models for those that work in tandem with the tech you've adopted.
- Additionally, management tools customized to your school or district's devices are essential, particularly for understanding how frequently devices are being used and what users are doing with them during use.
Though it's a frequent refrain, the value of solid infrastructure and teacher professional development investment ahead of a device rollout can't be understated. The network must be able to handle the massive number of users a typical school might burden it with, though schools can get assistance with that in some cases via programs like the FCC's E-rate. As Tustin Unified School District CTO Robert Craven said at last year's ISTE conference, "The biggest thing that I've found when rolling out a 1:1 program is really making sure that you have a robust network and that your network is able to take on the devices."
Teachers must also know how to effectively incorporate any tech their school or district adopts into learning, and that can absolutely necessitate investment in new curriculum. When he ran the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology, Richard Culatta told us, "One of the things that is the biggest sort of red flag for me is when schools are using technology in ways that simply digitize traditional practice."
Rather than using a digital whiteboard to do the same things you would with the traditional whiteboard, or simply offering what is essentially a digital PDF version of the print text on a notebook or tablet, districts must ensure they embrace new resources and provide the training on how to use them in order to sufficiently take advantage of what any given device has to offer.
- Ed Tech: Focus on K-12 5 Do's and Don'ts for a Chromebook Rollout
Follow Roger Riddell on Twitter