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The 4 essential elements of any successful one-to-one program

Not all successful one-to-one programs are alike. But they do share some common ground

As more and more schools and districts set goals to provide one-to-one access to technology to students to meet teaching and learning goals, district and school leaders are faced with the task of planning and implementing technology resources at levels that they might not have experienced in the past. My district, Santa Ana Unified (SAUSD), is increasing access to students through a program called “Access for All,” a well-received iPad and Chromebook initiative. Through this experience, we have developed a model for planning and implementation. Here’s how we got started.

Establish your vision

It is important that any plan to increase levels of access to technology to students does not move forward as a “technology for technology’s sake” effort, but that is integrated as part of the district or school vision for teaching and learning. At SAUSD, the goal of expanding access to technology to students is aligned to the district Framework for Teaching and Learning and has been established as an essential part of the district vision. This vision is centered on establishing a growth model with expanding choice options for students, enhancing personalized learning pathways, and providing a wide variety of blended learning opportunities to support increased student engagement and improved student learning outcomes.

Provide opportunities for stakeholder engagement

One of the first considerations when planning a one-to-one initiative is establishing support and funding. The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) is a critical part of California’s Local Control Funding Formula. As part of establishing the LCAP plan, school districts must engage parents, educators, staff, and the community.

At SAUSD, the decision to expand access to students emerged through the district’s collaborative discussions with its community groups as part of its LCAP planning. Through the feedback provided by parents, students and teachers at over 100 facilitated discussions, increased access to technology to students was identified as an important district goal to support student success, and was established as part of the district’s funding plan.

Another example of engaging our stakeholders emerged when deciding which mobile device model to select for purchase for schools. The district held a “technology roadshow” to give students an opportunity to voice their opinions on their preferences for specific models of mobile devices. This roadshow was held at representative elementary, intermediate, and high schools in the district, and students “road tested” a variety of mobile devices and gave feedback about selection. As a result, two mobile devices (iPads and chromebooks) emerged as choices for school selection.

Plan for network readiness

Network readiness is an essential component of any one-to-one plan. All district-level Erate and all additional wireless upgrade plans were aligned to support the implementation of our “Access for All” initiative. During our first year, the district’s intermediate schools were identified as the first schools to implement one-to-one mobile devices with their students. This decision was based on earlier experiences in expanding technology-rich learning environments at the intermediate school level. Due to these earlier efforts, the infrastructure at some of these schools had already been updated and served as a model for expansion to other schools.

Build site-based support and leadership capacity

After district planning had determined the grade level focus for implementation and hardware and infrastructure plan, the implementation focus shifted to building and supporting site-based planning capacity. One of the key elements for supporting school planning was established by putting in place bi-weekly “Tech planning Tuesday” meetings. The planning areas of focus include:

  • Communication to students, staff, and parents
  • Mobile device implementation
  • Professional development
  • Digital citizenship for students
  • Support
  • Sustainability planning

The school’s communication efforts focused on providing information on the “Access for All” initiative and to provide a roadmap of the school’s implementation plan. At school meetings held for parents, this information also included a review of the district’s mobile device use policy, and parents were given the opportunity to choose whether or not their child would bring the mobile device home to extend learning. The mobile device implementation planning focused on how the school would check out the mobile devices to their students, and how their support staff would manage and facilitate repairs. As part of our professional development planning, the district created required courses for teachers, which schools scheduled to be held at their school sites. The district also provided an online digital citizenship class for students, which they completed as part of their process for receiving the mobile device.

As schools moved through the implementation process, their planning needs shifted. We received a lot of positive feedback from principals and their planning teams regarding these meetings because they were able to share their experiences and strategies with each other. The capacity of our leadership expanded and grew, with many of our principals emerging as “digital leaders” well equipped to lead schools in purposeful innovation and technology-rich teaching and learning.

[image via flickr]

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