Initial phase of 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative to begin soon
An update on the district’s 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative was presented at the Sept. 12 School Board meeting by Denise Waalen, director of educational services.
"The1:1 Digital Learning Initiative will further the district’s desire to provide ever-greater personalized learning -- an active, participatory, student-driven experience -- with the primary focus on improving student learning and results,” Waalen said. “Expanding access to digital learning for all students will provide equitable access to technology, effective tools for teachers to engage each student in transformational learning experiences, and a tremendous opportunity for furthering the goal of college-readiness for each student in the Spring Lake Park School District.”
Updated Phase-in Plan
Waalen outlined the current plan for the phase-in 2012-13 rollout of iPods and iPads. Between the end of September 2012 and February 2013, she said, the phase-in will result in a classroom set of iPod Touches for every four classes in kindergarten, one classroom set of iPod Touches for every two classes in grade one, an iPod Touch for every student in grade two, and an iPad for every student in grades 3-12.
The first devices will be put into use at select classrooms at the Westwood complex beginning the week of September 24, with subsequent phases taking place over the months to follow. The phase-in plan is a purposeful approach to realize the smoothest possible results for students and staff, and to provide technology staff the opportunity to monitor, adjust as necessary, assist, and provide necessary support for the success of the initiative.
With the earliest phase set to begin soon, Waalen reposted that technology staff – aided by parent volunteers – have been working daily to prepare hundreds of iPads for student use. Crews unbox, inventory, label, and, image them with the district’s Digital Toolkit of educational apps, and pack them into the carts that students in the first phase of the program will begin using.
Beginning end of September 2012
The district’s Teacher Lead Learners will further their preparation by participating in intensive training September 18 – 20 with Elizabeth Hubbell, co-author of “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works.” These teachers’ classrooms will have classroom sets of iPads to use in their classrooms starting the week of September 24.
- Westwood Intermediate and Westwood Middle School: One team (four classrooms) in each school. (Devices stay at school)
- Westwood Intermediate and Westwood Middle School: Classrooms of teacher lead learners. (Devices stay at school)
- Two selected teams at Westwood Intermediate and Middle School will move to "24/7" with the iPads allowed to go home.
- Selected classrooms of students from the high school will receive iPads and some classrooms from our K-3 schools will receive iPads or iPod Touches in their classrooms.
- Westwood Intermediate School and Westwood Middle School: One grade level in each school.
- Three classrooms at the high school will begin taking devices home (24/7).
December 2012 through February 2013
- The final roll out of devices to all students in all schools and programs will begin in December with full implementation by the end of February.
- Early Childhood Family Education will be piloting several tools this year and working with staff and parents to make recommendations for implementation next year
Review: Infrastructure, Hardware, Training
Waalen outlined some of the projects and preparation necessary for the Digital Learning Initiative. Throughout the past spring and summer the district substantially updated infrastructure and hardware. The fiber network was upgraded from 1 Gigabit to 10 Gigabits, staff installed 346 wireless access points in all district classrooms as well as meeting rooms, media centers, cafeterias. In addition, a new firewall installed, Internet bandwidth was increased, and 50,000 feet -- that’s nearly 10 miles -- of cable was utilized to complete the tasks.
Throughout the summer, and into the first week of school, the district hosted 31 sessions in which 360 staff members picked up 359 MacBooks, 260 iPads, and 78 iPod Touches, and took part in initial training.
The district’s “Teacher Lead Learners,” whose classrooms will be to first to integrate iPods and iPads into teaching and learning, identified current successes and challenges with technology and have worked to resolve anticipated challenges. These educators, Waalen reported, “have generated new ideas and reviewed products and teaching methods that will meaningfully integrate new understanding and technology. They also learned new technologies to support students and staff and provided input for creation of the district’s own Digital Toolkit , which includes digital tools, resources, and apps for teachers and students.”
Support for Teachers and Staff
As the district expands technology to improve student learning, additional support for teachers and staff as will come from Technology Continuous Improvement Coaches (TCIC) in the schools who will partner with leadership teams to provide professional learning and continuous improvement support. TCICs will support the use of instructional technology by co-teaching and modeling effective instructional strategies in classrooms, and assist staff in finding digital resources to enhance student learning. See Introducing the Technology Continuous Improvement Coaches.
Parent and Community Learning Opportunities
Waalen said all Westwood parents will receive a letter on or about Sept. 21 with Phase I information. She added that updates and resources available to all throughout the year will be far-ranging and frequently expanded, noting current sections of the website in both 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative and Instructional Technology under Departments at SpringLakeParkSchools.org including Questions and Answers and Resources.
She added that the district would soon begin announcing parent information meetings, with the timeline of each corresponding to the initiative’s roll-out phases. The first meetings will be held at the Westwood complex. Answers to frequently asked questions are on the district’s website will continue to be updated.
“Panther Atomic Learning (PAL), providing resources and short video tutorials,” she said, “Will be made available online, and learning opportunities and classes through Community Education are being developed. Down the road, the district plans to host a Digital Learning Community Showcase in the spring for parents and community to demonstrate the teaching and learning made possible through the 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative.
Next steps include intensive for Teacher Lead Learners and other district staff, through a partnership with Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning, led by Elizabeth Hubbell, co-author of “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works.” The project to inventory and format student iPods and iPads, and to image iPads with the district’s Digital Toolkit continues, and parent and student orientation and digital citizenship sessions will be announced shortly.
The district is expecting new announcements from Apple regarding the pricing of mini-iPads. This announcement may have an impact on subsequent phases of the implementation plan based upon products and pricing that may provide a positive benefit to students and to the district.