Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Student input

A Chemistry 2 student describes how his iPad is useful in his chemistry class three weeks into the pilot, particularly the Notarize app which allows him to edit PDF files:

iPad pilot goes paperless

In week two of our iPad pilot, a surprising benefit of the iPad is becoming very evident--creating a paperless environment.

Students and teachers both are exploring ways to interact paperlessly, using apps and a little ingenuity to do so.  And the fact that the iPad is portable enough to be with the students and staff everywhere means an unprecedented amount of access to the information they need.   And while the point of this pilot is not to develop a paperless environment, it is already amazing how that has become a very immediate result and benefit.

Some of the helpful methods/tools being used?

1.  Paperless document/project creation – Using Keynote, Pages, note-taking apps like AudioNote, Penultimate, Notarize or Sundry Notes, iMovie, etc. students can create their work and share it paperlessly via email with the teacher.   No more, “I forgot it at home", or incompatible software preventing files from opening, etc.

2.  Paperless assignments – Standing at the xerox machine running off review packets?–Gone!  Because iPads deal with pdfs so easily, teachers can share out their assignments as .pdfs, either via their websites, qr codes, email, etc.     iBooks can store teacher syllabi, review packets for students, handouts, etc.

3.  Paperless assignment “turn in”– Students can turn in their assignments paperlessly.  We are using a variety of tools.   We have Google Apps, including email, so one option is students emailing their assignments to the teacher.   By setting a different subject line for each assignment or class, the teacher can use filters on Gmail to sort the different ones into separate folders quickly.   Other tools we are exploring to open student work with are GoodReader, Evernote, eBackpack, Dropbox, Box.net, etc.   Our network is accessible through the app WebDav also, so students can store or turn in their papers on our own network as well.

4.  Paperless assignment grading – Once student papers have been returned to teachers electronically, teachers can also grade them that way.   Using Google Docs on a desktop, the teachers can easily grade and comment on the assignments via Google Docs tools.    Or teachers can open the papers/assignments on the iPad and use additional apps to comment on them, such as the free app Neu.annotate, which allows markup of a document.

One of our teachers uses the Neu.annotate app effectively by utilizing the tagging feature of the app.  Each students’ assignment can be tagged with a unique tag for that class, the teacher can write on the paper, put a stamp on it, etc. and then “share” the paper back with the student via email out of neu.annotate.  Similarly in Google docs, papers can be shared with students and they’ll see the comments.   Similarly students can conduct peer editing or peer review or collaborative projects in these same ways.

5.  E-book use – Some of the online materials for classes can be used via Safari.   Students reading classics for their literature courses can download them from Project Gutenberg’s site easily(which has a handy QR code on their site to make it easy to add to the students' home page).   And the Follett e-books we had already purchased that are in our library catalog?  Now Follett has a button that allows them to be read without Flash, so they are accessible too.   And pull any books into the .pdf viewer, like those from Gutenberg, and they can be highlighted and marked up in neu.annotate or other .pdf annotation tools.

6.  Communication –  Teachers are exploring new ways to communicate with other campuses (like our Alternative learning environment) or with faculty or students at other schools via Facetime or the Skype app.
Sure much of this efficiency has so far revolved around document consumption and relay, and communication.   But this is just in 7 days of students having iPads.   And it also is a tremendous budget savings to the school–reducing the amount of paper passing hands and time and money spent printing, xeroxing, shuffling papers, etc.

But the happiest and most powerful benefit of all is seeing all the staff and students coming together to problem solve.   Students helping teachers with utilizing an app, students sharing apps with one another, teachers showing other teachers new methods for doing things, teachers sharing with students, and tech staff and library staff all in the mix as well.   It’s opened the door to a more collaborative and experimental environment in general as we all learn together.   And the fact that the learning is fun, and new, and totally outside of the box for many adds to the shared energy.

The other powerful piece is that because of the district’s policies, students and teachers have really been empowered to solve problems, use iPads as they see fit, experiment, play, explore, and the environment has been very supportive, rather than reactive or fearful.

Next up are teacher trainings, student app sharing, creating video tutorials and working with student mentors.

Now on to week three…..

Cross posted here by Carolyn Foote

WIFI Pilot gets started

iPad Launch Day

iPad Launch Day, Aug 24th


With over a year’s worth of small pilots, research, endless hours prepping teachers, and getting our infrastructure ready, the day had finally come. August 24th, the third day of school, was the targeted launch day of 95% of our iPads (some Sophomores would have to wait until the following day). We knew that iPad Orientation for students would be much more brief than the same for staff, but we needed to get the message out to all kids in a uniform way.

The plan was to distribute the iPads during English courses. That meant hitting as many as 8 classes every 52-minute class period. With 8 periods in the school day, we had a bit of a logistical problem. There were only so many people to distribute and talk to students. We needed a plan. Luckily, our Technology Services department and the Educational Technology staff had one in mind:
1. iPads would need to be distributed from a central location near all the classrooms. The book room in the area of the Language Arts wing made the most sense. We would have 1 or 2 “runners” from the Tech Dept to make sure we had enough in each class. While we had a fairly accurate count on classroom enrollment, kids change classes a lot during the first couple of weeks. With a location found, we needed to have the iPads and cases at the ready.
2. Cases were supplied by the school, however, because of a customs issue in the DFW airport, the cases were held up. We needed some in a hurry and were able to quickly get a back-up set of 1500 delivered the night before.
3. We needed a tech person in each classroom registering the iPad serial number with the student’s SIS account online.
4. We needed another person in each classroom doing the orientation and answering questions. The Ed Techs, the assistant principals, and I had a script, but we wanted to make sure the message was consistent. So, the day before we threw together a quick 5-minute video for all classes to watch and we would be available for questions. This would give us some buffer to get the iPads ready in classes if there weren’t enough.

At 8:45am we handed out our first set of iPads and didn’t stop until the last class at 4:05. It was remarkable for a couple of reasons. For one, the students really could sense the importance and responsibility being placed on them with this device. Secondly, it became a seamless part of the classroom much faster than we could have anticipated. While the assumed primary use would be substitution in nature at first (take your notes on the iPad instead of paper for example), we didn’t expect it to quickly become an augmentative and transformative part of the classroom so quickly. Within days, we started receiving all the different ways students were innovating and the ways teachers were changing the way they taught. All this within one week!


Last minute morning prep on Launch day


It's hard to imagine what this will look like by next spring, but for now, we are looking at what the next steps will be. Our only major issue the first week was the Jamf Console not being able to distribute apps for a couple of days as the traffic crashed the server. Some other smaller issues were not having enough people manning the “Genius bar” in the library, as students we eager to get in there and learn some new apps, ask for advice, and get some quick fixes. While we can there will be other issues, the launch and subsequent roll-out has gone incredibly smoothly. We hosted two parent WIFI nights for the community to ask questions. The biggest parent complaint we’ve received so far is when are the rest of the sophomores and freshman going to get them?
Excited student shows me his new device
Our next steps will be investigating rolling out the iPads to all high school students and coordinating pilots at all the elementary schools and middle schools. We’ll have the benefit of more time and now the experience from a full-fledged pilot to help us on those campuses, but we need to continue to learn and adapt much like the technology will. We are now eliciting support from three separate university groups studying and researching various parts of the 1:1 pilot. This will give us some valuable evaluative data that we often don’t have the time to collect and review during our busy lives in district.
We hope to have significant evaluative data to not only inform ourselves but also help other districts attempting similar pilots. After all, the synergy and value of student-driven learning shouldn’t be restricted to just our district. We think it’s ultimately the way to change and advance the educational system in this country and hopefully make school more meaningful for kids too. In the long-run, that’s what it should be all about anyway.

Cross posted here by Carl Hooker

Thursday, September 15, 2011

iPad Pilot Part 1--Synergy

posted by Carl Hooker

What started out as a twinkle in the eye of a few administrators and staff during a January visit to Cupertino has turned into a mission as we head into a new semester of school. Many of people have asked how have we progressed with the planned roll-out of over 1500 iPads to Juniors & Seniors at Westlake High School.

One word comes to mind: Synergy
We have had a large group of administrators, teachers, students and parents all championing the cause of bringing access into the hands of our students. Each person has played their part in getting this journey up and running. What follows are key events that led to the largest single roll-out of technology in our district’s history. (but not the most expensive)
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The Mothership
The AHA Moment: No, not that great 80′s band, but the moment when five administrators, visited Cupertino in January for an executive briefing. With an air of dire circumstances surrounding our district and the state, we knew we couldn’t stick with the status quo. We have to innovate or risk losing our foothold as a mainstay and public institution. That moment of realization struck midway through their first day there.

The Research & Development Phase: Like Apple and any other successful
company, a large amount of time and money is invested in R & D. School districts have neither the time nor the money to do this, however, we are armed with new forms of social media that can do our research for us. Carl Hooker, Director of Instructional Technology, tapped into his twitter and TEC-SIG(Texas Computer Educator Association) community pretty heavily to see what had worked and what hadn’t worked for 1-to-1 initiatives. Since the iPads were still relatively new on the market, there wasn’t a lot out there in terms of educational deployments so we had to develop our back-end systems to handle a large scale roll-out. Key teacher leaders also needed a few of these in their hands to really validate that the iPad was the most useful solution. We skyped with tech coordinators and superintendents from Brazil to British Columbia, seeking advice about how to make any type of roll-out successful. In the end, we gathered these key points to what would make a 1-to-1 solution of any kind work:

1. Staff buy-in – From the Superintendent to the guy putting in the network cables, everyone has to believe this is the right direction. Sure there can be doubts and fear along the way, but that’s why it’s important to have a group belief that will get use through those times of second-guessing. It’s also important to get the technology in the hands of teachers as soon as possible. They drive the bus, so the sooner it’s in their hands the better.
My 2-year old leading iPad training in June

2. It's not about the technology – True the iPad is a wonderfully cool and interactive tool, but it represents a level of access to content and content creation that expands student learning. That’s where the power lies.

3. Talk to kids – This is where we discovered the most surprises. The students crave to have a level of “real world” learning in their lives, but at the same time, they feel significant pressure to pass state and national assessments.

4. Get legal – Without a progressive, adaptable legal consultant, many projects can die

This is what 1500 iPads in boxes looks like
in a bureaucratic abyss. We are blessed to have someone in district that thinks about what’s important for kids first and foremost.

5. Infrastructure back-up – A willing tech department that can also see the potential benefit to students and not their own bottom line is important. Too often we hear stories across the country of how “my tech department said we can’t do that.” Having the Technology Services Director share in the “AHA” moment with the rest of us helped him see and believe the vision as well. Without his support and his department’s endless hours of work, any project of this magnitude would never get off the ground.

In terms of staff roll-out, we went about deployment in three phases:

Phase 1: Instructional Coaches, Librarians, Admin, & Department Heads – These key personnel needed it in their hands early to really research and find the potential benefits and pitfalls. We were able to procure enough funds to get these in their hands well before we even considered this as a possibility for this year.

Phase 2: Teachers – After a successful Bond election and positive early feedback from our Phase 1 group, we approached the School Board in late May to propose we attempt to move fast on this and get it started with the first week of school. When speaking with other successful 1:1 districts, they reinforced how important it was to start the year out with the technology and not do a partial phase-in throughout the year. That meant ordering them at the end of May and then getting them into the hands of teachers as soon as possible. We started with those teachers in the WIFI pilot group on July 14th and never looked back. While we gave them some basic orientation to the iPad, our goal was to give them as much time as possible to discover and learn with them before the start of the school year.
WIFI Parent Night

Phase 3: Students – We targeted the 3rd day of school, Aug. 24th, as launch day. This would give us time to hold at least one parent feedback night and get the appropriate loan agreement and insurance forms into the hands of kids on the first day of school. We knew that coordinating an effort of this magnitude would take a lot of planning and ultimately…..synergy…..to make it be successful. With all the parts in place, we prepared for August 24th – iPad Delivery Day or iD-Day – with baited breath and hope for a smooth launch.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Pilot Begins

Welcome to the Eanes ISD WIFI (Westlake Initiative for Innovation) Pilot site, where we will chronicle the stages of a campus-wide iPad rollout at Westlake High School.

For the 2011-2012 school year, the Westlake High School campus has distributed iPads to all junior and senior students, as well as teachers, administrators, librarians, and counselors.  In addition, students in other classes who applied to be part of the pilot have received iPads as well.

The site will host descriptions of innovative iPad uses in classrooms, video tutorials and analysis by teachers, lists of apps we have found useful, and processes the district has used to distribute iPads in a large scale deployment .

The hope is to provide guidance and support to other schools venturing down this road in the future.  Welcome to the site!