Since the creation of a new district technology plan in 2018, the Technology Department (TD) has updated nearly all of the district’s personal technology, increased availability of student resources, created and met with the technology workgroup, initiated classroom pilot programs, held student and teacher PD, and will be updating the District’s infrastructure in the near future.
Addition of Devices & Infrastructure Updates
Over the past year, the TD has added 200 Chromebooks, 200 iPads and 125 MacBook Airs. Because of this, with the current bandwidth, the District has been encountering problems periodically with an overall drag on the network, and the TD brought in two outside consultants who confirmed that District does not have enough accessible bandwidth.
Within the next 6-8 weeks, the TD will install a device that will act as both a firewall and content filter.
In 2013, thanks to generous donations from the PTOs and SEED grants, the District purchased carts of Chromebooks. However, since then, these devices have become old and slow, and are in need of replacement.
By internalizing projects that the TD had contracted out in the past, the TD saved enough money to replace four of these carts last summer and are on track to replace the remaining carts for the Fall 2019 school year. At this time, the TD plans on replacing 2-3 carts per year starting in the 2020-21 school year. This will make the oldest set of devices three years old, and the devices being replaced can then be housed within classrooms and used until those are no longer functional.
The overall goal of the technology plan is to provide students access to the appropriate device for their needs. Ex: A Chromebook is useful when typing a paper; an iPad is useful when annotating and recording are involved.
The District currently has a very strong emphasis on writing, therefore the preferred device is a Chromebook. With recent updates in technology, many of the new Chromebooks are touchscreen devices, creating a nice hybrid between a standard laptop and tablet, and mayl be an excellent option for the District when a classroom set is piloted in Fall 2020.
Touching on the accessibility factor, new Chromebooks will be available in the future that will allow students who do not have access to the internet at home to connect to the District’s network through a partnership between CTL Chromeboks and Sprint cell phone services. The Shorewood School District is one of the first districts in the nation to test this out.
The TD is also currently testing a checkout system with a few students, where students take home devices for the night to complete their school work.
Over the past year, the technology workgroup met almost every month. The workgroup developed the chart below as a guide to help the District create a technology integration plan and to define what a digital citizen graduating from Shorewood looks like.
The image above represents the three areas of focus. To date, the workgroup has addressed social-emotional digital citizenship, digital workflow and will soon breakout into smaller grade level groups to work on the application to academic skills.
All meetings are posted online by month.
iPad Pilot Group
In the fall of 2018, the TD launched an iPad pilot with the goal that the devices would act as an enhancement, an organizer of material, and an asset to the overall lesson. The pilot includes a kindergarten classroom, two multi-age and three single age classrooms, a science class at Shorewood Intermediate School and a science class at Shorewood High School.
Teachers are seeing increased student engagement and focus on lessons. Students are recording themselves explaining their answers and recording and listening to themselves read. They are using apps that allow for parental involvement in student work, and parents can view electronically what students did or when assignments are due.
Janet Reinhoffer, an Atwater teacher participating in the pilot program, shared with the Board the heartfelt experiences she has had and witnessed in her classroom since introducing iPads.
“It is amazing when your students can see their parents pop up on the iPads, telling the students how much they love them and how proud they are. It brings me to tears that technology can bring families together and can get more parents involved in the classroom.”
Janet's sentiment highlights an important piece of information we often do not associate with technology, how it can bring people closer together and increase communication. Kelly Steiner, an SIS science teacher also expressed how she is using her iPads to address the social and emotional wellness needs of her students.
Another factor contributing to the success of the iPads is the classroom management. With the recent changes in technology, iPads are now easier for teachers to manage than ever before. Teachers have access to all screens, can lock students into specific applications (helping with focus), and lock one or all student devices when not in use. Chromebooks also have an application like this, but that application is not cost effective in a non-1:1 environment.
With the success of the iPads, there are also some concerns, primarily in regards to the lack of keyboard. There are a few issues with on-screen iPad keyboards, primarily in grades 5-12, when it comes to writing projects but students are developing strong problem solving skills, and troubleshooting issues on their own. The District is using some bluetooth keyboards with varying success.
Next Steps in Place
Going forward, the TD will have a Pilot 2.0 program. This pilot will focus on adding more devices in the classroom and will also build upon the previous pilot. The TD will be bringing more iPads into the elementary schools and test touchscreen Chromebooks at Shorewood Intermediate School.
Ongoing professional development is being offered at all schools, and this PD will continue to focus on three areas each month. Because of the emphasis in writing, at least one of the PDs will have an application that focuses on writing.
Finally, the TD continues to update the District's current technology. In the 2019-20 school year, all of the Chromebook carts will have been updated and the TD will redistribute working devices to classroom teachers. Over time, this will provide much more access for all students and teachers.