weLearn 1:1 initiative
. All students (grades 3-12) will have access to their own personal mobile device (iPod® mobile digital device, iPad® mobile digital device or laptop) after the six-year levy period.
All middle school teachers and two of the six middle schools in the district will be the first to receive iPads. A total of 1,700 will be deployed, and Eddie Sawyer is the man making it happen.
As the Instructional Technology Facilitator, Sawyer is the unassuming liaison between groups with very different points of view. While teachers and instructors whisper in one of his ears, I.T. professionals and technology advocates murmur in the other. While some parents support more technology in the classroom, others fight to minimize screen time in the classroom. Sawyer is essentially the I.T. side of instructional learning, which gives him a sometimes challenging path to traverse.
To rise above the opposing perspectives, he focuses on the project’s goal: to give students new ways to demonstrate what they’ve learned. The purpose of the device is not to replace teachers, textbooks, or a curriculum, but rather to change and enhance the way students work with new concepts and skills.
As Sawyer aptly puts it, the apps selected for students to use in the classroom are not content-specific (i.e. a math textbook), but rather creation-based (i.e. a comic strip creator). The students’ iPads simply function as an addition to traditional pen and paper; it’s a new way for modern kids to show their work.
Consequently, app selection is one of the most crucial aspects of VPS’s iPad deployment. Sawyer worked with a committee of teachers, I.T. specialists and administrators to agree upon fifty apps for each grade level’s iPads. Creation-based apps are chosen over content-based apps because different classrooms may teach with different materials.
Deployment began by assigning each grade level a host computer (VPS used Mac Minis with their existing PC hardware). Next, Sawyer created a VPP (volume purchasing program) account, set up separate faculty and student profiles per grade level, and purchased the selected apps. Using Apple Configurator and Anthro’s Wired Sync Cart
, Sawyer then synced the apps onto the devices.
The school district limits updates to just two or three times a year in order to keep devices in students’ hands as much as possible.
Mid-year updates will be performed by techs in each building to further minimize down time. Sawyer also schedules a series of Professional Development opportunities to support educators as they incorporate these new tools into their work.
As Sawyer continues to push forward with VSP’s 1:1 initiative, he’s encouraged by teachers’ enthused adoption of the devices, and the progress students have made in their education as a result of using their 1:1 devices.
Perhaps the best way for Sawyer to ameliorate fears and reservations of VSP’s 1:1 initiative is to continue championing the slogan of “creation, not content.”
Students are learning as they have been for decades. It’s simply the mode which with they show what they’ve learned that has changed.
iPad® and iPod® are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.
This fall, Washington’s Vancouver Public School District will begin implementing its