News

Tips for launching a one-to-one initiative

By Kevin Schwartz
September 26th, 2013

Involving students in the planning and procurement of a one-to-one initiative has worked out well for this Texas school district

initiative-latitude-learnThe Clear Creek Independent School District in Texas truly puts the public in public education. I cannot think of a more profound example of this statement than what is occurring today in our Houston-suburb school district of 40,000 students.

We are leading our teachers, students, parents, and community on a journey to refine teaching and learning in the 21st century as we deploy 30,000 Dell Latitude 10 tablets to students over the next three years. The Latitude to Learn initiative is unique to our community because it is deeply rooted in our district beliefs and mission, and perhaps most compelling, it is being designed by students, educators, technology specialists, and parents. Because it is our customized plan, I don’t have the magic formula for success—but I can offer some advice to school districts considering a one-to-one computing initiative.

First, go slow to go fast! For years, this school district knew that classrooms needed a boost and that our students deserved uninterrupted access to the world. However, funding and finding the right device always seemed to stump progress. In 2012, we stopped and took the time to capture the aspirations of teachers, technology specialists, parents, and students.

District leaders held design/strategy sessions as a cross-functional team to tease out our values about Learning and Technology interplay. I still treasure the stacks of spent sticky notes from meetings in which we aggregated thoughts into categories of Equity, Access, Engagement, Professional Learning, Instruction, Collaboration, Efficiencies, and my personal favorite—Realities.

“Realities” embodied the notion that technology is inevitable, and we have to acknowledge that to our students’ benefit. We approached the Board of Trustees as a unified team and showed them how ubiquitous access can improve learning for all students. We began with fundamentals, including a robust wireless LAN to support any mobile initiative (laptop, tablet, “bring your own device,” etc.). We spent countless long nights at community events soliciting input and feedback on the ideas. In the end, the plan stuck and won support from the community to invest $45 million in technology.

(Next page: Three more keys to Clear Creek’s success)