A one-to-one program done slowly—and right

The key priority that came out of the strategic planning process was labeled Time and Space. Technology—specifically mobile devices—played a big part in the vision. “For us, it’s about thinking differently about how we leverage and think creatively about how we use time, space, and technology to maximize learning potential and to scale personalized learning with fidelity,” explains Webb. “It’s about finding the best ways to scale mass customization.”

Currently, the district is in its third year of scaling its mobile learning initiative. Eleven of the district’s 35 sites are completely one-to-one. As an entry point, the district started with several schools of choice—magnet schools and a clutch of middle schools. It’s now scaled up to its remaining middle schools and is seeding pilots at one of its 6-12 schools. Next year the initiative will expand to the district’s comprehensive high schools and the following year to one of its elementary schools in grade five. Finally, they’ll expand to grades four and three together in all elementary schools. It’s a methodical roll-out designed to ensure that the implementation matches the needs of each student population, with each stage being seeded in a beta environment a year ahead of its full implementation.

Webb stresses that their approach to their digital transformation isn’t about the technology, it’s fundamentally about transforming the kinds of learning experiences that students have in their classrooms, uniformly. “We deliberately scaled this in a way that focuses on a whole systems approaches to organizational change,” explains Webb. “In order to get that second-order transformational change, we’re making sure that this is connected to student learning outcomes and instructional quality, and that we have a robust professional development ecosystem in place that supports collegial ongoing job-embedded support in order to equip our teachers with the knowledge, skills, habits, and dispositions to leverage these digital learning resources in transformative ways.”

The district began with instructional quality, and then linked it to an instructional framework, which it supports through high-quality professional development. From there, it began scaling the other elements—curating content for teachers, rolling out content and learning management systems. “If you start by just handing out iPads, or laptops, or digital textbooks, the initiative might work in the short term, but you won’t be able to scale up to get at mass customization,” Webb says.

The district will scale close to 18k devices in grades 3-12 within the next three years; Webb’s predecessor had the forethought to install a large pipeline at the district so having the bandwidth to support that number of devices is not an issue.

Next page: Keeping learning central to the program


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