Technology Rollout underway

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By David Meade

Anderson School District One is in the process of introducing its Digital Innovation – Transform, Discover, Excel initiative which includes a technology rollout of more than 7000 iPads.

The rollout has teachers and students excited about receiving school supplied iPads which will be used in the classroom and at home. The rollout began at Powdersville High School at the start of classes last Wednesday and at Palmetto High on Thursday.

Principals and teachers have already had training on use of the new technology and parents are being required to come for instruction session prior to iPads being issued to students, Assistant Superintendent Jane Harrison said.

The rollout includes training, use guidelines and digital citizenship classes for students.

The rollout includes issuing 7420 iPads along with training and use of related applications (Apps) which will be used for learning in the classroom this school year.

Every student in the district will have access to iPads, Harrison said.

Students in middle and high schools will have their own iPad which will be used in school and at home for research and homework. There will be strict guidelines and oversight through the Airwatch browser the District is using.

“The Digital Innovation initiative aims to transform how Anderson One teaches to ensure all students have access to information and become critical thinkers, talented problem solvers, and efficient collaborators and communicators,” said Harrison.

“Each teacher and student in grades 3-12 will be provided with an iPad for both school and home use, allowing students to have information at their fingertips and experience educational content in ways they have not been able to in the past. Students in K-2 will share classroom sets of iPads.”

Rollout at Wren High School was planned for Friday but was delayed until Tuesday to allow some deployment issues to be worked out.

Harrison said there were some issues with the Airwatch program and network and active directory issues. Representatives and support people worked on the issues all weekend in preparation for rollouts planned for this week.

Harrison said 1128 IPads were issued at Wren High on Tuesday. Middle and Elementary schools will continue with their events being held each day over the next two weeks.

The rollout includes opening and unpacking the IPads, placing security stickers on them, scanning into the ID system and then having cased put on each one. “Everyone is excited about getting their Ipads,” Harrison said. “The schools are ready to use them.”

School officials are making a big deal of the rollout, with a pep rally including performance by a band whose instruments are totally digital iPads.

Anderson District One Superintendent David Havird said, “This is an investment in more than technology; it has the potential to provide equity and to level the academic field for all students. Each iPad will be customized through apps and digital textbooks as they become available. We believe the use of iPads will provide students with the skills they need. We believe the use of iPads will provide students with the skills they need to support their higher education opportunities and for today’s workforce. This new initiative will enable our students to accomplish more than they have ever been able to do.”

“The iPads will allow students to have current information available at their fingertips,” Harrison said. “Students will be able to improve reading and mathematical skills, and experience content in ways that they have not been able to do in the past.”

“In order to better prepare students for the 21st century we need to move the focus from teacher led instruction to student centered learning that empowers students to use technology to explore, create and innovate. Creativity, communication, collaboration and problem solving are critical aspects of learning if we are to have our students ready for college and careers. The Digital Innovation will transform learning in our district.”

In preparation for the Digital Innovation rollout, Anderson One has done extensive training on how to best incorporate the iPad into the classroom to maximize the benefits for students.

Kristen Hearne, Coordinator for Digital Learning, and three Instructional Technologists have collaborated with iSchool Initiative, which helps integrate mobile technology into school districts, to develop a rollout plan and ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers.

Hearne said, “Technology alone will never change education but great teachers and quality teaching combined with iPads can change education. It’s not the tool. It’s what we do with the tool.”