Avoiding mistakes in digital device initiatives


“Strategy and vision are so important,” Smith said, adding that buy-in from all levels of leadership helps reinforce a digital initiative strategy.

“When I talk to people who are considering one-to-one or BYOD, one of the first things I talk to them about is, ‘What is your strategy?’” Schad said. “Don’t follow trends. Sit down and think about your holistic strategy. Whether you’re doing one-to-one or BYOD, it’s not about the device—and a lot of times, people tend to focus solely on that device and think magic will happen once they have it. [Focus on] instruction supported by technology.”

Securing district and stakeholder buy-in also is key to avoiding implementation mistakes.

“Districts need heavy involvement from the professional development, curriculum, and technology departments—all three are critical,” Schad said. “Principals also have to have buy-in.” Community and parent buy-in is necessary from the get-go, he added, noting that districts can’t eliminate parents from the process or bring them in at the last minute.

“Lots of times, people lead these initiatives without doing groundwork ahead of time,” Larkin said. “They talk about one-to-one as a solution, but they haven’t talked about the problem yet. They treat one-to-one as a silver bullet but haven’t done the groundwork. These are instructional resources—it’s not about technology; it’s about changing the way we do instruction in our schools.”


Many state and district leaders make the mistake of skipping the “why” question in a digital implementation.

“What you need to consider is that as a district initiative, leadership extends all the way down to the campuses,” Schad said. “You have to answer the ‘Why are you doing this?’ question. If you skip this step, when you get into professional development and involving parents, if they don’t understand the ‘why,’ they’ll never move to understanding and accepting the ‘how.’”

Equipping all district leaders with answers to the ‘why’ questions will help when the initiative runs into problems.

Laura Ascione

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