Student Device Study Underway!

Students and teachers using a laptop

In accordance with our technology plan, I am starting a committee to help select the type of device we will provide to high school students next year and to middle school students the following year.  While there was a previous selection process run last year that was thoughtful and well-intentioned, there were not enough instructional voices included.  The digital literacy team has developed learning/learner-centered selection criteria to guide the process this time around.  The criteria are listed below:

Devices should:

  • Enable students to be creators, not just consumers, of content.
  • Consistently start up, shut down, log on, and log off in less than 30 seconds, thereby maximizing instructional time.
  • Last a full instructional day without needing a charge.
  • Allow for easy installation of approved applications and services.
  • Be rugged, easy to maintain, and easy and inexpensive to repair onsite.
  • Have a single sign-on (SSO) for productivity, communication, and storage (i.e. be a one-stop shop).
  • Have a touch screen that is large enough to accommodate multiple apps on one display.

Devices should have access to:

  • A robust, reliable, and simple set of productivity tools (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, etc.).
  • A rich ecosystem of K-12 learning tools (applications, extensions, and services).
  • Essential functions while not connected to the Internet.
  • Strong, learner-focused, K-12 professional learning communities and resources.
  • Unlimited, easy-to-use cloud-based storage that is seamless and works for all products.
  • A large set of easy-to-use accessibility tools (available within the product suite or via 3rd party).

Given these criteria, we’ll be looking at two device types: the HP laptops that we currently give to students with assistive technology needs (one of the previously selected device types) and a similarly sized Chromebook.  Since we will be looking at Chromebooks, we will be focusing most of the learning for our steering committee around the Google suite of tools.

Our goal is to provide a fair, transparent, and evenhanded examination of both the Windows and Google environments.  Stacy Behmer and Jonathan Wylie from GWAEA will facilitate each of the meetings.  We hope to have a recommendation before the end of this calendar year.  We plan to invite all staff to attend a session (that will run twice) to learn about both systems and to provide input.  More information on these sessions as well as a sign-up form will be coming in the next couple of weeks.  Student feedback will also be collected over the course of our study.

Here’s how the process will work as well as the timeline. There will be five meetings between October 24th and the end of the calendar year:

10/24/18: Steering committee meeting to set context and shape feedback tools.

11/1/18: Steering committee meeting to experience a hands-on demonstration of learning with both Microsoft tools and Google tools.  The team will participate as students/learners in a simulated, digitally-rich lesson design.  The same lesson will be run twice – once using the Microsoft ecosystem (Office 365) of tools to collaborate and learn and another time through using the Chromebooks and Google tools.  Jonathan Wylie will be teaching the Microsoft lesson and Stacy Behmer will teach the Google lesson.  We will collect feedback from the team after this session.

11/15/18: Comparative Demonstration. This session will meet from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at GWAEA on 6th St. SW.  AEA staff will provide a comparative demonstration and explanation of both Microsoft and Google tools.  This event will be open to all CRCSD staff.  Feedback collected.

12/4/18: Comparative Demonstration.  Same as the 11/15/18 session also at GWAEA.

12/11/18:  Steering Committee meeting to analyze feedback and create a recommendation.

Over the course of this six-week window, we will be gathering student perception data from schools currently deploying Chrome devices.  We may also run a small test pilot with secondary students as well.

I realize there’s a lot of potential changes underway, but here are some elements that will not be changing or studied:

  • We will not change staff devices.  Teachers and administrators will continue to use their Windows computer.   We will continue all planned rollouts as scheduled.
  • This work will not change our implementation of Canvas.  Our technology plan does not call for the study of Learning Management System (LMS) for two years.  So, we will continue to use Canvas until then and perhaps beyond.
  • If we would elect to adopt devices running Chrome – using the Google suite of tools, this does not mean the Microsoft tools will be going away.  I would anticipate that we would keep the MS tools available for staff.  In this scenario, students would need to use Google tools, but staff could choose which tools best fit their design needs.

This is an exciting and very active period of time.  As always, let me know what questions you have.

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