Whether you are in the process of deploying a tablet/laptop program in your school or are thinking about going down that path at some point in the future, it’s always better to learn from the experiences and pitfalls of those who have already implemented a successful program.  So the NutKase team reached out to its community of ICT Directors who have deployed thousands of iPads, tablets, and laptops to understand what some of their biggest challenges and lessons have been since launching in K-12 schools.

Our goal is to provide you with the most useful and actionable advice possible to help you save time and resources when executing your device deployment.

Takeaway 1: It All begins with the culture!

Before launching a tech deployment in your school all of the stakeholders in your community need to be “culturally” and “mentally” prepared for this huge shift. By stakeholders we are referring to students, parents, teachers, faculty, and management. Implementing a technology deployment at scale whether it’s 50 devices or 1000 requires elaborate preparation and investment to ensure that all stakeholders are 110% onboard with this paradigm shift.  If not, you could be at risk of the deployment failing resulting in wasted time, money, and resources! So first and foremost before taking any steps towards starting a deployment you must find a way to get everyone onboard with the idea and ensure that your community  believes and supports this vision. How can you do that?

Communication is the key!  There needs to be a top down approach to share this vision with all of your stakeholders beginning with management disseminating their vision with the faculty & teachers and ending with the students sharing it with their parents. Once your community is made aware of the endless possibilities and benefits of your new technology, this will help accelerate the adoption curve to all of your stakeholders!

Takeaway 2: Educate teachers and students on how to use the SAMR model before deployment because what use is all this technology, if there isn’t a paradigm shift that comes with it?

The SAMR model created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition. It’s a hands on approach to embed technology in the classroom. We learned from the ICT directors we spoke to that students and teachers need to have a comprehensive understanding of the valuable SAMR model before the deployment takes places.

High tech hardware and software in the classroom offers endless new opportunities for students, but if there’s a lack of education on how to fully take advantage of it it will be lost.

Here is an outline of Dr Puentedura’s SAMR model of Enhancement and Transformation:

Substitution: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change. This would be like using Google docs as if it were any other old word processing tool, ie not taking advantage of its’ advanced capabilities! The new tech replaces the old tech, but it does not replace the task.

Augmentation: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement. At this level the tech is still a substitute, yet provides more functionality as students work to complete the same task. The ability to share your google doc in one click and have it automatically saved to the cloud is an increase in functionality.

Modification: Tech allows for significant task redesign.  The technology is used to redesign part of the task and transform student learning. Students collaborating on one google doc and collaborating over the internet and using the comments features to leave real time feedback is an example of modification.

Redefinition: Tech allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable.  At this level we are able to design and create new tasks that were once unimaginable, by shifting our perspective from technology as being just another substitute the opportunities are endless. An example would be to connect to a classroom across the globe via student shared Google docs, where they could use the chat feature to communicate with students on the other side of the world and collaborate on a group project.

The goal for the ICT department is to educate teachers on how to use the powerful new technology and empower them to be able to share these new tools with their students. Teachers’ responsibilities are to gradually guide their students through the different levels of the SAMR model. Doing this before the deployment takes place is mission critical to the success of the deployment!

Takeaway 3:  Start with the end in mind

Regardless of whether you are selecting the Apple Class Room, Google Class Room, or Microsoft Class Room, the amount of organisation and management to keep all devices safe and under control cannot be underestimated!

As one of our ICT Coordinators said, “The devil is in the details: cables, charging, locking, software and app deployments, damage policies.” All of this needs to be delicately managed during the deployment process. You might at first think the hardest part of deploying a tablet or laptop program is picking the correct software to manage the devices, not to mention selecting the actual apps that students will need on their devices.

But what we learned instead from our ICT Directors is that one of their first real tasks is the need to identify reliable suppliers of charging cabinets, and charging cases to keep their devices safe and charged.  Without these two essential components their hardware could be at risk. We have heard from many K-12 Schools that the company Loxit is one of the leaders in providing laptop charging cabinets which fit all sizes of tablets and laptops. In speaking about tablet and laptop cases, NutKase provides some of the industries most protective and ergonomic cases which are specifically designed to cater to the needs of K-12 students. Starting with the end in mind, having the foresight to see that if the devices your school is purchasing are not properly protected, stored or charged, that too could be one of the achilles heels’ of a technology deployment.

These are just three of the biggest lessons learned from our community of IT Directors. We hope this article helped shed some light on a few of their biggest struggles and will give you a heads up on what to expect when you implement your school program as well!  Please write to us with any questions you have or if you wish to speak to us about specific concerns or issues you may have.

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