One school’s 1:1 journeyAugust 2014
CRAIG KEMP outlines the major stepping stones his international school took in embracing a 1:1 device programme and the ups and downs experienced along the way.
It all started when we tabled the idea of developing a truly innovative technology programme (at the time this sounded impossible, considering where we were at). We set off to come up with a plan and did our research into why/how will this help the learners in our school. We narrowed our initial ideas down to running a BYOD programme or a school-owned and leased 1:1 device programme.
After much debate and research into other schools programmes, we decided that a 1:1 device programme was more suitable to our setting. But which device?
Our school is a PC school so we enlisted the support of Microsoft Singapore.
From day one, we knew this partnership was going to work. Microsoft supported us with every spanner we threw in the works and provided on-site service whenever we had questions. The process began when they brought in a team of staff and a bucket-load of device options – from laptops to notebooks to tablets. None of which tickled our fancy. They just didn’t seem right; I just didn’t feel comfortable promoting a truly innovative technology programme if we were to choose an outdated device.
Then it happened: the announcement of Microsoft’s Surface device. We had to try this, and within two weeks, we had a sample shipped in via Microsoft from USA. What a device! It had everything we wanted and ran MS Office products that would support our school network, and our IT technicians could see all sorts of possibilities. However, after many weeks of excitement, we found out that the Surface Pro was not going to be available in Singapore in time for us to launch our 1:1 programme in February 2013.
The search was on again for that one device we knew was cutting edge. At last, we found it! Dell had just announced the upcoming launch of the Dell Latitude 10 tablet device. Slim design, light, Windows 8, durable, USB connection, touch screen, interactive technologies – it had it all.
December rolled around and all of our documentation was starting to come together. We had gained the support of our school council and our very supportive community of parents. Working in partnership with Microsoft, we got a sample in and immediately placed it where it mattered: in a classroom. We wanted to see first-hand if it was easy to pick up and use and if it was everything we hoped it to be.
Needless to say, it was a hit, and on 1 February 2013 we launched our 1:1 device programme for Year 5–7 students.
The research flowed, ideas were shared, decisions were made (thanks to the support of Microsoft) and the devices were implemented. Devices were purchased by the school, set up by our ICT support team, based on my recommendations for what we required, and we aligned expectations to match our Year 5–8 students’ needs.
Almost 18 months into the introduction of our 1:1 device programme, we have had many ups, downs, and challenges, but we have persevered and come out the other side. Would I change what we did? Absolutely, but technology changes so quickly that the right device is always changing.
Some of the highlights of our 1:1 programme:
- Students, engagement levels are higher
- Uptake by middle school staff – perfect!
- Quality of produced work – excellent
- Changing culture from theory to creation – students are now makers and doers, they use their devices to learn, teach and make
- A wider scope (depth) of learning, including coding, video production, and digital photography)
- Parent support and PD programs we have run (very well received)
- Student achievement improvements (no data, however, to relate this improvement to devices as yet)
- IT support and extra staffing to support integration.
And some of the frustrations:
- Crashing of devices
- Connectivity battle (which has now been resolved)
- More paperwork and documentation required
- Insurance of devices
- Time spent dealing with issues, clarifying job descriptions – who deals with what problems?
- Gamification – poor graphics card that reduced the quality of products we could use
- Carefully selecting specs of the machine to suit our needs – we have now created a list of required apps/programs for each year level and the devices must meet the minimum criteria to be considered.
All of the meetings, policy documents, discussions, and research were worth it. We are finally here and technology integration has never looked better. The students are loving it: from movie making, digital photography, coding, Skyping, to using Twitter to connect and collaborate. The devices allow more student voice and more freedom of learning.
Now in Year 5–6, we have 1:1 Dell Latitude tablets, and in Year 7–8, we have 1:1 Dell touchscreen laptops. We are looking at options for students in Year 3–4 next, who currently are 1:2 with Dell touchscreen laptops.
Integrating technology across all curriculum areas to support learning is the main aim of our 1:1 programme, and so far, we are succeeding. Creating and collaborating are key areas of our teaching programme that the 1:1 programme supports.
Craig Kemp is a New Zealand educator and currently head of ICT and learning innovation at an International School in Singapore. This article was adapted from his blog, Craig Kemp’s Professional Reflection Blog: www.mrkempreflects.blogspot.co.nz