A Roadmap for Going Digital
Once the decision to go digital is made, there are a myriad of decisions that need to be made in order for the rollout and subsequent operation of the plan to go smoothly and ensure success.
First, we’re going to start with the assumption that you have determined the “model” of your program, whether it's a:
- One-to-one program where the school will provide the devices.
- “Bring your own device” program where the students can use their own devices, or some combination of the two, blending the best of both models
If you’re still looking for help deciding which program to implement, we have additional resources to help. Obviously this step alone can be a rather lengthy process. The program model you choose impacts the budget you’ll need, which of course, impacts the funding sources available, all of which have to be taken into consideration. And all of these elements can impact your implementation plan.
Build your team
It makes sense to think about the roles different people can play as part of your implementation plan. You need people to help you do the work, some to support the work and some to simply be there to cheer you on.
- Teachers and classroom assistants: The teachers are the very hub of your operation. They are responsible for using the new digital material and are being held accountable to make the program run smoothly. It’s a good idea to know that you have your teaching staff on your side…and if not, have a plan to bring everyone together.
- Parents and students: Parents can be great evangelists and cheerleaders for the program. They can encourage the teaching staff, sway a negative opinion in another parent, and support the program by supporting their children’s work.
- Business and community leaders: These groups can help you with funding and creative financing. Perhaps you can implement a laptop or device “rental” program for students with some business partners. Or a community leader may have connections in the state legislature who can help.
- IT and technical partners: Hopefully you already have the support of your fellow IT professionals in the district—after all, they will be helping you support and administer the program.
- School administrators: You hope that you don’t ever have to “enforce” program rules, but if you find “pockets of resistance” to the pending changes, it helps to know you have administrators who can support you by encouraging everyone to get on board.
Build your network infrastructure
Once you know the type of program you’ll be implementing, Intel can help you determine the work that needs to be done to bring your network “up to par” to meet the increased demands of the new program.
We’ll help you walk through handling the increased traffic brought on with the addition of lots of devices along with the “pipeline” needs that multimedia applications and streaming media on demand by hundreds of devices will require. Remember to factor in room for “scalability.” Devices and demand for data continue to move at ever increasing speeds. The bandwidth you need today will not support your program in five years. Keep as far ahead of the curve as your budget will allow.
Remember to also think through the logistics for students who need a loaner device for the day, or perhaps they just need to borrow a power cord for one class. Having plans set up for these certain contingencies will make the school day run more smoothly from the first bell.
A Learning Management System
Have you decided if your school will use a “Learning Management System” (LMS) portal? If your program is rolling out slowly to a small population of the students, you may not need one right away. As your program grows or as you are planning a school-wide program, an LMS system is a great way to keep everyone organized.
The LMS is where teachers access the curriculum and resources and post grades and communication. It’s where the students access their homework and sometimes even exams. The administration and IT group can communicate with the online population as a whole as needed.
The rollout plan
You have your virtual “team” members in place to help you support the program. You know the program you’re ultimately going to roll out, and you’re getting your network fitted to handle the demands of the new program. Check.
As with any program of this type, it makes sense to start with a “soft” rollout. Remember that what can go wrong will go wrong, so unleashing devices and curriculum on upwards of 500-1,000 on day one might be a recipe for disaster.
Work with your administrators and teachers to come up with a plan to roll out the device use and curriculum in a gradual way. This can take many forms. Perhaps only one class goes 100% digital with new classes coming “online” each week or month until the holiday break in December when everyone will be online. Or perhaps all the classrooms participate but only one subject at a time at different times of the day until all classes are participating at all times of the day.
There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to do it. What’s important is you have a plan and you have the support of the teachers and administration working towards your common goal.
The Internet is a wild and wonderful thing. Providing underage students access to the Internet and all it has to offer certainly opens doors for concern. The path to good digital citizenship is paved with lots of communication--communication to the parents about what the school is doing to protect the students along with the parents' and students' obligation to uphold school policy.
It is an excellent idea to conduct in-class presentations to the students geared to each grade level so they understand the do’s and don’ts of Internet navigation, what plagiarism is and isn’t, and good general “netiquette.” Provide a packet of information for the parents to review and sign so you know the parents have at least seen your policies.
Acceptable use policy
In partnership with your digital citizenship is your acceptable use policy (AUP). The AUP is meant to inform and protect both the school and the student by setting down firm guidelines for the use of a device in class.
The AUP should cover classroom issues, such as when it is and isn't appropriate to use the device. Where are devices stored when the classroom is empty? Can students access social media if they have completed the assignment ahead of their class?
It should discuss the limits of liability for student-owned devices. If a student personally owned device is lost, stolen, or damaged while on school grounds, does their school have an obligation to replace that device?
Your AUP should address appropriate care and handling of school-owned devices. What if the device breaks or is damaged while in the student’s care? What if the damage is clearly not the fault of the student and what if it is?
There are lots of examples of successful AUP documents available on the Web. As with the rest of your program, there is no right or wrong here, just what policies are appropriate and work for your particular district.
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