Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Future of Learning Technologies at Cozad High School.

As we will soon turn the corner into 2015, we approach the close of year three in our 1-1 student iPad implementation.  Several issues loom ahead.  Some are strictly technology-management items:

  • The iPad 2, while still supported, has been discontinued by Apple.
  • Its current replacement, the iPad Air, is a much more capable device.  (You can see the current iPad options here).  The iPad Air sells for the same price we have always paid for the iPad 2.
  • With our focus on iPads, our current fleet of teacher and student computers are showing their age and approaching their practical end of life.
  • Reasonable alternatives to the iPad as a learning device have become much higher in quality and are more affordable (Chromebooks, in particular).  
  • Many (but certainly not all) students carry a personal device which replicates much of the functionality provided by the iPad.
While these are practical and important issues for administrators and technology managers, they should NOT be the driving force behind our future goals and implementation plans.  As always, we need to base our decisions on student learning and outcomes.  While we must live with certain financial realities, within those parameters our goal is always to do what is best for our students and their learning.

This leads us to a necessary conversation.  Where do we go from here?  This conversation must involve high school teachers and students.  As technology managers and administrators, we can imagine several options, but we as managers do not do the teaching or the learning.

For your consideration, we can see several possible strategies for 2015-16:
  1. Continue with our current system of 1-1 iPads.  
  2. Adopt a different school-provided device (Chromebooks being the only reasonable alternative from a financial standpoint).
  3. Maintain the iPad program, but try to provide Chromebooks for certain departments or student checkout.
  4. Adopt a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model and use our financial resources to help students who need it.
There are likely other options which we have simply not imagined, and of course technology changes very rapidly, so there may be alternatives available in the future which we cannot presently foresee. Each of these strategies has inherent advantages and disadvantages.  

We feel our school has done an excellent job in taking the first steps in providing quality 21st century learning opportunities for our students.  However, we will never "arrive" and we must constantly strive to grow and improve.  

In the months ahead, please take the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation about these issues with your colleagues and fellow students.  Any and all feedback you can provide to us is desired and appreciated!

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