Sunday, March 1, 2015

1:1 iPads: What has happened since taking over as the IT Director

This is a long overdue continuation of my last post.  For Pete's sake, it has been over a year since I last wrote.  Hopefully, I will be able to continue to post in a more timely manner.

In the first part, I talk about the technology that I took on and how it has evolved.  This segment is about the EdTech/Technology Coordinator side of this job, and what that has transformed into.

My role as IT Director is not just the tech side, but rather a combination of roles that are synonymous with an EdTech/Technology Coordinator position. This year is interesting to me as it will mark my 20th anniversary as an educator, and it is my first year as a credentialed administrator.  I came into this position knowing that I wanted to be part of an educational culture change that embraced technology, and Le Grand Union High School District's 1:1 iPad implementation was a great chance to explore and participate that change.  But, I never realized what that would look like.

This is our sixth year of being a 1:1 district, but I can honestly state that we do not see ourselves as a 1:1 district.  We are a district that happens to have a 1:1 program.  This is directly related to how we (the district) now looks at things, and how we operate.  Three years ago we started taking a look at how students learn and how we taught.  The process we took is called Instructional Rounds.  Simply put, this is the practice of looking at what students are doing and taking that information to develop PD on strengthening teaching strategies.  This process changed our view on what is really important to our district.  That in turned guided us on the path to become a Professional Learning Community (PLC).

You may ask what does this have to do with technology and our 1:1 program?  Well, the bottom line is that any program will not be a great program without people.  Without our district and the faculty taking time to develop our Instructional Rounds and PLC initiatives, we would not be were we are now.  According to a BrightBytes Clarity survey we administered, we are a district that in which 96% of our teachers believe that technology use in class can enhance student learning (Le Grand UHSD, 2014).   What this means is that we have reached a point in our 1:1 program where technology is now seen as a tool.  This was very different from our results of a Chico CSU Action Research study that we participated in.  The results from that study showed that we had only 42% acceptance among faculty of our 1:1 program (2012).  Through Instructional Rounds we have seen the trend of technology becoming a tool that is used to promote learning at the higher levels of Blooms, the use of the Four C's, and mastery in accordance with Common Core.


As I mentioned above, we also started our PLC initiative.  I can honestly say that without Instructional Rounds and the conversations that happened through that process, I don't believe that a PLC would be working here.  The one thing that the PLC initiative has made a positive impact on our district culture, is that it has helped us to become better communicators.  Are we there yet, NO, but we are on our way.  This really matters to what I do and how I approach the use of technology in the classroom.  I have always been the guy that people turn to to get their technical answer, but often when I give them the answer, they need a translator to interpret what I said.  I know that I have a Geek Speak handicap, and I constantly strive to talk so that others understand me.  Luckily for me, I have a wonderful teacher (+Alison Lopez ) that is also our technology coach and she helps with the translation when needed.  One of the more important lessons that I have learned through the PLC process and my experiences as a new administrator is that everyone has a level of communication that they are very comfortable with, and that I need to respond to them using their communication process if I am to help them with their technology/classroom integration.  This has definitely made a positive impact on how I present PD to our district.  As of late, I have been reflecting on some of my past presentations on student use of technology, and I realized that although I constantly championed for getting more technology in the hands of students, I never really thought or talked about getting the teacher ready for that type of reality.  With the 1:1 wave getting stronger, the one thing that I can state, is that there is no such thing as too much PD.  If you are curious about enhancing your technology PD efforts Google "Adult Learning Theory".  If you get a chance to, go see/listen to what +Andrew T Schwab is doing about EdTech and Technology PD in his school district.

This past weekend, I had the privilege to present with +Alison Lopez at the ETC! 2015 conference in Turlock.  Our presentation was on 1:1 and Common Core work flows.  We had a wonderful time at the conference, and hit was great to connect with other #edtech leaders.  The take away for both Alison and myself was that our 1:1 program really depended on the people in our district.  Our technology support is not really about supporting technology, but rather supporting people who happen to need or use technology to help students learn.  We ended our presentation with the following image.

As the IT Director, I would not have had the opportunity to be part of Instructional Rounds or be a true active member of our PLC, if the above chart was not the norm in my district.  Technology and technology support has to work consistently and be highly dependable before it can be seen district wide as a learning tool.  


Le Grand Union High School District. "21st Century Learning." Survey. brightbytes.net. BrightBytes, 15 October 2014. http://brightbytes.net/. 12 Jan. 2015.


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