There’s a saying that states, “what’s monitored is done” and in certain situations, that statement holds true. Today, I would like to build on to that statement and devise a new quote:
“What’s monitored is done but what’s supported is done better.”
Nothing good can become of a system with no foundation. In all things instructional, the foundation is integral to the learning process. It doesn’t matter what area of education that we speak, there has to be a strong foundation in place to support student learning.
After spending the last week hearing from teachers, it became apparent that one of their biggest barriers to integrating technology was access to working devices. That’s what they thought anyway. After further discussion and research, it became apparent that non-working devices were only a small piece of the puzzle while the over-all “tech foundation” needed a major overhaul.
Strengthening the Foundation
1. Get Devices Updated.
In our school district updates are not automatically pushed out to computers yet. We’re getting there. Today we made a list of which updates needed to happen along with which items needed to be loaded on computers. The chrome browser was at the top of the list and oddly enough, in our google district, it wasn’t readily available on devices. As we are moving to integrate our google apps in the best possible way, chrome is necessary. In addition, we wouldn’t have to worry about chrome NOT being updated as with other browsers.
2. Streamline Apps
I picked up an ipad today that had more apps than my eyes could handle. To be clear, no one needs 67 ABC apps…no one. What we will do is load “educational foundational” apps to each device. The ipad carts will slowly but surely become the creation stations that they were meant to be. We will create folders for presentations, video, audio, image, digital storytelling, drawing, and even assessment. As grade level teachers meet to discuss student outcomes, other apps will be added to grade level core content folders as needed and determined by teachers.
As of now, the majority of our teachers are depending on someone to tell them which apps to download. As I work with them on what technology integration looks and feels like, minor tasks such as app selection and even downloads will become an unquestionable aspect of their daily plans.
3. Establish Processes for Documentation
What if a computer won’t run an application? What if items won’t print? What if the printer is out of ink? What if a computer is in fact down? What if an app won’t download to the ipad? Who gets the call?
We toyed around with google forms today and nixed that idea for our in-district ticketing system which not only creates the ticket but establishes the trail. Teachers will have to “tell the system” when something breaks in lieu of either walking away from it or utilizing word of mouth. This entire concept, like the previous two, isn’t anything that isn’t being done in other places. It wasn’t being done here and it needed to be. Sometimes the desire to “make things easier” results in the lessening of responsibilities. We can’t afford to do that. Entering a ticket takes much less time than re-imaging a system that happened to be down for months.
4. Share the Responsibility and Accountability
On a campus that is not 1:1, but has access to devices, it is extremely important that everyone shares the responsibility of taking care of those devices as a team. Devices must be shut down properly, placed in the carts appropriately and handled with care. From a class management standpoint, as we facilitate learning we are mindful of where those devices are. More importantly, we involve students in this process. They have to feel some sense of ownership as well or it becomes no different than the toys in which they are accustomed to.
5. Develop a Training Plan: Support, Feedback, Follow-Up
Most of our training plans have been set. However, after meeting with teachers, we will be doing some additional training. There will also be plenty of opportunities for teachers to share their ideas as well. What’s important to note is that whatever is in the training plan can’t be a “hit or miss”. It has to be structured with support, feedback and follow-up. The goal here is to establish a climate where technology moves from being a “thing”, which is where it is now, to being necessary as established by the task.
The strengthening of the foundation is an ongoing process much like training and support. However, without considering what happens behind the scenes, the “show” can’t go on in the right way. It’s not about building a perfect system but about creating a system that supports campus goals…student success.