- Do you have the infrastructure in place? Can your internet handle the increased usage?
- What type of device is the best for your, laptop, tablet, other?
- Do you have the proper training and support in place?
- What are you doing to train the staff?
- What will the classroom change look like?
- Will administration provide you with the support you need?
Our first step was to get the infrastructure in place. We know that our current bandwidth is barely able to keep up, so for the fall, we increased it ten times our current amount. The second question was a little more difficult to answer. Because we are a district of few resources, we had to find something that was inexpensive and fit the needs of our students.
After careful consideration, we decided on the Chromebooks. No this is not an end all solution, it is only one piece. The lack of the ability to use Java is a big barrier and the inability to install some programs such as Photoshop mean we still need a lab or labs for certain specialities. However, the Chromebook does fit 95% of our needs. Please also note, you need to factor in breakage costs. We are guesstimating 10% of our Chromebooks to break over the year and have taken some precautions to try to reduce that (See The Cranium on the products page).
The next steps may be the most important. What training, development and buy-in do you have from administration? We worked with a local college to create a course to offer teachers credits for their license recertification. We offer the class two nights a week to accommodate their schedules and we will be offering it a second time in the summer as an online course. The course itself is designed to create the teacher's online class, a file management system for their students and lessons to use with a Chromebook. It is important that teachers do not simply replace pencil and paper with a computer. The class is designed to walk teachers from the beginning with the basic introduction of the Chromebook to full blown daily lessons they will begin using from day one in the fall.
The biggest issue is support from administration. If they are not behind it, the entire initiative is bound to fail. They need to understand the big picture. They need to see how this is working. They need to be in the know. Sometimes as the tech integrator this last part is easy to forget. You work so closely with your team that your administrative cohorts are left out. Keep them informed.
Our process is ending up happening faster than we had planned. Most district takes 1-2 years to plan this out before implementing. Due to some Title 1 funds we have, the random conversation went from, we could to we are. Fortunately, we did take the above steps and will have a successful implementation for the fall.