Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#FETC Designing Digital District: Panel Discussion with Leading Districts

#FETC Designing Digital District: Panel Discussion with Leading Districts


Why I chose this:
I am interested to see what topics are covered by these districts. The districts were not named in the flyer, so I am not sure who is presenting on the panel. I want to see what so-called leading districts have to say and how they compare to districts in our service area.

What we covered:

This session is sponsored by Lenovo. Session to last 1.5-2 hours. Union County Schools from North Carolina on image right. Dr. Mike Webb, Dr. Mary Ellis, Tony Burroughs. On the left  in image, Dan Rodriguez (Florida UDT), Scott Pierce (Georgia Schools), Scott Holcomb (Shelby County/Memphis City Schools) - "small rollout" of 12000 units.

Dr. Ellis: taught for 18 years, now Supt at UCSD. This is about children and learning. Digitization must be about students and instruction. 25000 devices in circulation, rotate out 13000 units at a time. Mix of economics, etc. Saved money, gave up 20% instruction money to funnel to technology. Started their own virtual school.

Tony: Played "What if.." to figure out how to support whatever device was to be used. Pull together a team to get things done. Was a priority. Trained people from the inside to grow the system. Scalable Infrastructure.

Dr. Ellis: Every middle and high school, have tech support staff. That does not include instructional staff.

Dr. Webb: Technology provides a "hub and wheel" approach to allow students to float in and out of virtual classes. Teachers were trained first before devices were rolled out. What's the classroom of tomorrow really look like? Have the buy-in, so what is next?

Dr. Ellis: Modular seating, whiteboards floor-to-ceiling, reach out to partners to help think through things. Are we the best in the world? No. But, our size fits me. Meeting needs of the child.

Holcomb: Nerdy teacher that makes enemies with IT. Trying to what is best for students. RIght now, doing blended learning. Large school district and close to 100% free/reduced. Highly mobile student population (not tech, but in terms of education/instruction).  13000 devices. Went with Lenovo for rollout. Use Yoga. Digital curriculum is center of things. Do not make the hardware the center of things. What is the curriculum? What technology fits that curriculum? Ask teachers who use technology what they need, don't just install access. Lease the devices, 3 yr lease with warranty in case student drops or loses device. Tracking devices if the device is stolen. Police department helped recover 3 devices. When student took device home, they could still work. Most students there do not have internet. Looking into cell company provided access.

Q: Why not use in-house curriculum?
A (Holcomb): Had a system in place, but content was not vetted.
A (Ellis): We do develop our own curriculum. Done on Google Docs. Took semester's worth a work. Get paid stipend for it. Looked at outside, but they were already doing what the outside companies offered and/or could develop missing pieces.

Q: How was PD delivered for blended learning?
A: PD housed in online LMS, work in progress. Created videos on how to use technology (for teachers) ex: Windows 8.1, etc.

Scott Pierce: Henry County Schools is young in the process. Changes in leadership hurts the cause for IT and integration. Technology will backup the leadership instead of serving as the lead for rolling things out. Ultimately, what is best for students? Had to reach understanding as to what can/cannot be done through tech, what do the teachers need and how can tech implement it? IT gave up control and blocking things - gave teachers the control and oversight.  Special purpose tax in Georgia, used for refresh technology and buildings/facilities. New high school: what do you want classrooms to look like? What do you want in the rooms? Modular furniture, access to more connectivity, etc. Digital hardware (50% f/r rate) - Projector, each student got a computer. Teacher supplement. Teachers can had additional hardware. Rolled out wifi over 3 years (54 locations). 5gigs coming, currently have 2gigs - too slow for teachers. BYOT network, segmented. Had to managed students bringing 2-3 devices. Once school turned off BYOT due to access issues (students had 1-to-1).

Dan (UDT) - Solution provider. Ask, "Why and how are you designing your digital district?" How do make things better? How do we measure that?  Some look at discipline, grad rates, test score, etc. Some look at collaborative learning, convert analog tasks to digital environment.
1. Where is the district now? Deployment Enablement
2. Align curriculum to outcomes. Learning beyond the bells needs to be examined and measurable.
3. Measurement is everything. What are the benchmarks? How does the district want to measure success? Analytics, big data in terms of the district.

What parts are disruptive to teachers? Which parts of implementation lift-up teachers? What are the stumbling blocks? What are the hurdles? What are the strengths?

Q&A/Discussion: NOTE: not ALL discussion is being recorded here. Basically, just high points and/or summations

- Buy extra AC adapters!

Q: Leasing vs buying
A (Holcomb): Leasing, get a new device at end and roll into new lease. Tech changes, rooms full of old laptops, monitors, etc. Leasing was smarter than having old devices. Also with damage coverage.
A (Dan): Education is comfortable with buying due to budgets. Leasing looks at sustainability.
A (Ellis): It is doable. Keep a 5-year plan going. May have to work with auditors, etc. Have to cut in places to get the money. People appreciate, expect, then demand.
A (Webb): Make sure your IT department knows the cycle. Cannibalizing equipment to extend life.

Q: Do you offer advice only or do you also work with analytics, logistics, etc?
A (Dan): Use contracts and are responsible for procurements, training, other components built in to the agreement (implementation, etc). Work out issues like insurance, repairs, etc as part of the contract agreement. Can help align to curriculum areas that make sense (ex: subjects with high-stakes EOC testing). What is meaningful to administration in terms of analyzing and measurement. Teachers often need a guide, a plan, as to what and how they should be using the devices being rolled out. Must look at TCO for implementing devices.
A (Jamie, Lenovo): Buyback - Lenovo has asset recovery/credit service.

Q: Patterns regarding what is allowed/not allowed on your networks. What is being filtered?
A (Tony): Work with high school principals as to what should be allowed in. Certain polices and rules for different levels. Does not allow Youtube.
A (Holcomb): We allow YouTube and Twitter as part of social media curriculum.
A (Dan): Sometimes the nature and access of traffic governs what is opened or blocked.
A (Tony): Bandwidth is shaped, for example when testing occurs, etc.

Q: How do you retain your IT talent?
A (Tony): I don't. But, that's part of it. I am more diverse than if they go corporate because they are working on that one thing for which they were hired in the corporate world.

Q: Middle of writing 3-year tech plan. Advice moving forward in terms of using tech plan.
A (Ellis): Get your board on your board. Tech council comprised of principals - got to stakeholders and get the buy-in. Had to revise board policy to make it happen. Tech group can talk to policy can talk to principals can talk to teachers, etc.
A (Webb): Made it part of the strategic plan. Big part was PD and how move to training of teachers.

(There were other questions, but those not recorded here)

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