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What’s important in a digital device initiative?
The Burlington district ultimately chose iPads as its preferred device, started its one-to-one program at the high school level, and then expanded to the middle school level, with plans to have the initiative encompass all K-12 grades.
Larkin said the district chose one device instead of a BYOD policy to help teachers move from having little to no technology to managing classrooms in which all students have devices. “It would be a lot for teachers to handle difference devices,” he said.
One goal of a device deployment or initiative is to stimulate student and teacher collaboration, and to ensure that students and teachers learn from and educate one another, Larkin added. Another is the quality of the time students spend using their devices.
In the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough (Mass.), school IT staff focused on increasing wireless capacity, improving network infrastructure, and boosting bandwidth in anticipation of a one-to-one initiative, said Jean Tower, the district’s director of technology.
“We first just banned everything, but the real problem with that is that the more you say ‘no,’ the more it just goes underground–people find a way to get around it,” she said.
Next, the district allowed technology devices in school, but only under tight control, for specific instances and at very specific times.
Realizing that such control did not facilitate technology-enabled teaching and learning, Tower said the district now operates under a model of “welcome disruption.” This mindset, she said, came about when ed-tech leaders realized that students and teachers expect to have access to and use of their technology devices, and because schools today are trying to meet learners’ needs with fewer resources.
“If we don’t bring technology in, we’ll never have the opportunity to cultivate the culture that welcomes BYOD,” she said.