To promote buy-in, we:
- Sent newsletters that educated our stakeholders about our initiative, rationale, and anticipated outcomes.
- Shared social media updates to keep people informed and generate enthusiasm for our rollout.
- Published, posted, and mailed a personalized learning device agreement that established expectations and responsibilities for students and parents.
With buy-in from the overwhelming majority of our school community prior to those all-important first days of school, we were able to start the school season strong.
3. Test it out.
A district-wide technology initiative is expensive and time-consuming. Getting it wrong can set learning back years. So play it safe and test your tech before you buy.
During our research phase, we asked multiple vendors if we could borrow up to 30 devices for testing over a 60-day period. (Only one vendor said yes.) With a hands-on experience in our math, ELA, science, and foreign language classrooms, we were able to see how the devices performed, troubleshoot any issues that cropped up, and find out just what kind of support we could expect from our vendor.
4. Prep your environment.
Consider how you want students to use the device and how your IT infrastructure may need to change to complement your new technology throughout the building. Questions include:
- Where will kids use their devices most?
- Are there internet access points in these areas?
- How will these computers interact with our current classroom technology?
- Do we need to redesign our learning environment? How?
- What charging solutions are necessary?
We made sure that our kids could access the internet in commonly shared spaces such as our courtyard and cafeteria. We replaced outdated interactive whiteboards with new smart TVs that can connect to our new computers wirelessly. We also created more colorful, collaborative classrooms with portable furniture that supports a 1:1 learning environment.
5. Train early and often.
With careful planning, prepping, and training, our teachers have achieved a 90-percent success rate with using the new technology. Here are some methods that worked for us:
- “Train the trainer” sessions
- Professional learning communities
- In-person sessions at the end of the academic year
- Proof-of-concept testing with teachers
- Microsoft Innovative Educator online tutorials
- Full day of professional development
6. Be flexible and stay on track.
Nothing is perfect. Expect some missteps because they’re going to happen. Best advice? Be proactive whenever possible. Make sure you have extra tools and resources at the ready: extra chargers, backup styluses, and support staff in as many classrooms as possible.
If you have carefully vetted your vendor, you will get the best possible customer experience. With quick access to customer support, we were able to exchange emails and receive personalized video messages that were specific to our needs.
7. Choose a technology partner.
Rolling out a new tech plan can be intimidating, so choose the technology provider that’s less of a vendor and more of a partner. After our 2+ years of researching, testing, and prepping, we chose the technology partner that made our small team feel large. Ultimately, we chose the Atlas 2-in-1 laptop from Bak USA because the company shares our commitment to education, and the customer experience was second to none.
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