Part of Woodward’s vision statement affirms the goal of developing students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. In holding true to that goal, Woodward believes that graduates should be proficient in a plethora of technological devices and operating systems. Woodward helped obtain this objective by adopting an iPad pilot program for seventh-grade students during the 2014-2015 academic year.
This decision was not made without substantial research, which included numerous site visits, outside workshops, and conferences. Administrator and teacher buy-in—as well as considerable professional development opportunities—was critical.
Devising a Strategy
In the spring of 2014, a small contingency of instructional technologists and teachers visited a number of schools with fully implemented one-to-one programs in addition to schools that go the route of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). We learned that in order for teachers to plan effective lessons without the distraction of different devices, implementing a one-to-one program would be the most effective option for our Middle School.
iPads were chosen because of cost, portability, availability of educational applications, battery life, e-reader availability, and flexible usage. The ability to enroll these devices in a MDB (Mobile Device Management) system also made the adoption more desirable. A “self-service” app was installed on every device, facilitating student app installation.
To promote program success, teachers were given their iPads five months before their students. Middle School Instructional Technology Specialist Dee Koscik arranged three initial professional development days provided by an Apple certified educational trainer who taught iOS fundamentals. Other Apple professional development days focused on iPad productivity tools, and there was a “coaching day” for teacher drop-in. In-house training was provided for specific apps and teachers learned the best way to integrate these apps into the curriculum for increased student engagement.
At the beginning of the school year, every student and parent attended an informational session which covered iPad rules and the responsible use policy. Both students and parents signed documents agreeing to the conditions of use before receiving the device.
Equipped for Success
Each classroom was equipped with an access point to establish reliable device connectivity in preparation for device implementation. For teacher mobility in the classroom, Reflector was installed on every seventh-grade classroom computer.
Many of the teachers became more innovative over the course of the pilot, incorporating programs, apps and other digital tools into their classooms, including:
- Digital Notebooks via Google Drive
- iMovies to teach lab safety
- Screencasts using Explain Everything to demonstrate ideas
- Video Production with Green Screen
- Creation of Digital Books with Book Creator App
- Formative Assessments with Nearpod & Kahoot
Ultimately, the pilot was viewed as a success, and iPads will again be administered to current seventh graders in the 2015-2016 academic year.
This will render a fully one-to-one environment in the Middle School. Although we have adopted iPads, we will always complete a yearly evaluation to ensure that we are providing the most relevant and innovative learning experience for our students.
Nneka Johnson is the Lead Instructional Technology Specialist for Woodward Academy, and a doctoral candidate in the Tift College of Education at Mercer University. Nneka is a Google Certified Teacher and Google Education Trainer who has taught technology integration to pre-service teachers at the university level. She has given presentations internationally on technology integration and also served as the Deputy of Innovation and Technology at a private school in Sydney, Australia. Currently, she trains teachers and students on new tools to facilitate learning.