Thursday, November 12, 2015

Look How Far We Have Come!

I was recently reviewing posts from an older blog I started about 3 years ago. Here are some example post titles: "Exploring BYOD at CCHS", "Need Ideas for Using Your New iPad" (and that referred to the first iPad 2s folks!), and the controversial "Moodle for Online Learning" (about our upcoming switch from Blackboard to Moodle -- oh the stress that one caused!)

It's now November of 2015 and we are no longer doing BYOD. Why? Because every student has a school provided iPad! Yet it was the BYOD program that showed us that these tools could be great assets in the classroom. It also let us discover that managing a multitude of different operating systems, applications and access wasn't what we wanted teachers concentrating on. The iPad 2 devices that the BYOD pilot teachers were testing seemed to meet the needs we were looking for of long battery life, available education apps and portability. All high school teachers received their iPad 2 devices and we moved from BYOD to iPad carts available for checkout. We brought in Apple to work directly with our teachers for several days as well as having our own "techie" teachers run various PD workshops. Teachers were able to become accustomed to using the iPad 2 for both their own personal learning and for their students. Those that utilized the carts in their classrooms were able to focus on the learning possibilities the devices provided. This program also helped us discover some of the gaps in our wireless network and support systems. We were able to increase bandwidth, add additional access points, a wireless network management system and additional support personnel. These upgrades have greatly improved the reliability of our network, the additional personnel has been a godsend and we have had a multitude of professional development. All of this added up to ensure the smooth implementation of the 1:1 program.

Then there was the move from Blackboard to Moodle. It wasn't that Blackboard didn't work for us but we were going to lose our low-cost access. Our ISD host was making the move to Moodle. Yes, it ultimately came down to money and a limited tech budget. After much wailing, handwringing and handholding, teachers went through the process of moving their courses over to the new platform. Administration scaffolded their expectations and now, a little over 3 years later, all of our courses have associated teacher-developed Moodle pages and students have access to their course information, assignments, supporting documents, and additional learning materials 24/7 from their personal device. Another success!

So why am I walking down the preverbal memory lane? Because as we continue our 1:1 journey and the professional development talk revolves around project-based learning, differentiation, student-lead learning and teachers as guides, I want to you pause for a moment and look in the rearview mirror. Pat yourselves on the back. Realize that you are all awesome educators and... You've Got This!

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