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Plan a successful 1:1 technology initiative

By Carolyn Sykora
June 29, 2014
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In 2010, both the Common Core State Standards and the first iPad were released. Together, these changed the name of the game in U.S. education.

The Common Core assessments were designed to be taken online, requiring students to be comfortable with using and navigating digital resources. The tablet offered an affordable alternative to computer labs and carts — one that was portable enough for students to use throughout their school day and at home.

Reviewing the current body of research, ISTE found that 1:1 programs were already showing educational gains for students in special education as well as improved reading and writing skills in certain student populations, piquing the attention of decision makers.

In late 2012, ISTE hosted a forum for school and district leaders. By far the most common reason for attending was to learn about the considerations needed for planning a 1:1 or BYOD program. Attendees didn't want to reinvent the wheel. They looked to ISTE to bring together best practices, resources and expertise to help plan for that transition. Lead & Transform is our response to that need.

Why is planning so important?

Los Angeles Unified School District made headlines last fall after Phase 1 deployment of its 1:1 program resulted in a recall of the issued devices. Most districts aren't as big as LAUSD and wouldn't necessarily receive the same kind of national attention. But large or small, school districts need to learn from those who came before them. Lead & Transform curates tools recommended by education leaders to help others develop a visionary plan and see it through to implementation and evaluation.

How does Lead & Transform help us meet the ISTE Standards?

ISTE's five sets of standards distinguish the skills needed based on the role an individual plays in the education enterprise: student, teacher, coach, computer science teacher or administrator. The standards for these various roles are intended to help educators navigate the sea of digital resources, tools and platforms and use them purposefully and meaningfully for learning.

While the standards provide guidance for individuals, ISTE's Essential Conditions help set the stage for managing the systemwide transition to digital age learning and teaching. These 14 conditions are necessary "to effectively leverage technology for learning."

Lead & Transform dives into what the Essential Conditions are and provides resources, tools and research to help school and district leaders plan for a major technology initiative. Instead of starting from scratch, education leaders can draw on the expertise of others when preparing to become technology- and standards-ready.

What are some of the lessons learned?

The number of schools and districts moving to 1:1 is accelerating, and the there are many lessons we can learn from the pioneers. For example, district leaders in LAUSD learned that spending too much time and too many resources on deployment took focus away from teacher professional development. Technology is only effective as a learning tool when educators have the skills to use it in an instructionally sound and pedagogically effective way.

Principal Michelle Ostot from Copper Ridge School in Arizona led her school's successful transition to 1:1. She advises requiring all students to take a digital citizenship course before they are issued a device or are allowed to bring their own devices to school. Strong policies and parental involvement work hand-in-hand with this course to ensure students know their rights and responsibilities when using these devices in school.

1:1 and BYOD are game changers, giving students access to digital tools throughout the day, across all subject areas. This paradigm shift challenges teachers to rethink and redesign learning activities to capitalize on their schools' investment in technology. Lead & Transform supports school and district leaders in cultivating the Essential Conditions to ensure planning is sound and effective, implementation is robust, and teachers and students are able to fully leverage technology for learning.

Carolyn Sykora is ISTE's senior director of standards. Learn more about how Lead & Transform can help you plan a school- or systemwide technology with her webinar, "Rethink Learning with the ISTE Lead & Transform Movement."