Having been part of a whole school 1:1 iPad project, these are what I consider the 5 key ingredients for a successful EdTech rollout.
1.) Find Out What Other Schools Have Done
Prior to embarking on your journey, spend time researching 1:1 projects elsewhere to establish the benefits and barriers to a successful roll out. Visit other schools to see first hand the impact of using iPad in the classroom. Schools on the whole are very open and willing to engage: since embarking on our project, we’ve had others visit us to see how our project has been coordinated.
2.) Set Up a Professional Learning Community (PLC)
Don’t dive in head first! Gather a team of staff interested in the use of EdTech, preferably from a variety of departments and run a pilot project. Use this as time to experiment: it is inevitable that in the beginning, some things will not go to plan. However it is better to uncover and address as many of these as possible before a whole school roll out. Without this crucial step, less confident or skeptical staff may lose interest before your journey has even begun. Ensure that a range of staff, including Network Managers and ICT Technicians are involved as much as possible to help address issues with hardware or wireless networks.
3.) Training, training and more training!
I can’t emphasise enough the need for high quality, continuous training: in order to have an impact, this is essential! It is likely that there will be an array of confidence levels amongst staff, right from those who already own their own device and use it regularly to those who have never even seen one. Whole staff training sessions are a useful starting place, however they tend to be quite broad and can leave the least confident, who often need the most help, behind. Departmental training sessions are effective as they are more personal and enable like-minded staff to discuss how they could best embed technology within their lessons and schemes of work. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of the skills and expertise of the staff who make up the PLC to help here!
4.) Engage Parents
If parents are going to be paying for devices for their children, they need to be clear about the impact this will have. Invite them to engagement evenings and show off some of the fantastic work that the PLC have been doing during the pilot project. Outline the decisions taken by the school, explaining why you have opted to take this route and where you plan on taking it in future.
5.) Harness the Skills of Students
It is not a practical or sustainable solution to rely completely on external agencies to provide training. Plus, this will need to be repeated when there are staff changes and new pupils are enrolled. Why not overcome this by developing a student Digital Leader programme which harnesses the wealth of talent you already possess as a school? It is likely that many pupils are alredy familiar with using devices, so develop this and use it to the school’s advantage by placing this group at the forefront of staff and student training. If you are looking for ideas for developing student Digital Leaders, check out my post here.
Ultimately, this is based solely on my own experiences. There is no one size fits all approach and it’s likely that different schools will have to adapt this model to suit their own individual needs. Since this is a huge project which requires a massive investment in terms of both finances and time, it is important to ensure you are on track throughout your journey. Conduct a short survey with staff at the start of your journey and then again at key points throughout to measure progress and identify what action needs to be put in place to take it even further.