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SUCCEEDING
WITH EDUCATION
TRANSFORMATION
Tackling technology initiatives is rarely easy,
but districts can help ensure suc...
I
t would be difficult to find a school district not preoccupied with
technology tools and digital learning. According to ...
COLLABORATION
Transitioning to project-based and team-oriented learning benefits
students by building real-world skills co...
STAKEHOLDER
SPOTLIGHT
Successful digital transformation requires orchestrated
efforts among many players to reap the advan...
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Succeeding With Education Transformation – A Guide to Effective Technology Initiatives

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It would be difficult to find a school district today not preoccupied with technology tools and digital learning. However, despite their best efforts, many school districts have fallen victim to botched rollouts and ineffective strategies that have wasted time and money — and hurt their reputations with students and parents. This guide from the Center for Digital Education looks at the key elements of a successful digital education transformation, focusing on the 3 Cs of conversion, curriculum and collaboration.

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Succeeding With Education Transformation – A Guide to Effective Technology Initiatives

  1. 1. SUCCEEDING WITH EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION Tackling technology initiatives is rarely easy, but districts can help ensure success with a different approach.
  2. 2. I t would be difficult to find a school district not preoccupied with technology tools and digital learning. According to a 2015 Center for Digital Education (CDE) survey of nearly 300 education leaders, more than half of IT decision-makers say the need to improve student achievement is driving the adoption of classroom and instructional technologies, while an overwhelming 94 percent say these technologies are extremely or very important to learning. However, despite their best efforts, many school districts have fallen victim to botched rollouts and ineffective strategies that have wasted time and money — and hurt their reputations with students and parents. A hallmark of these failed technology implementations is siloed decision- making — or decision-making that occurs when each department operates independently without accounting for the needs and goals of others. Evidence of mismanaged technology projects can be seen with donated or grant-purchased software that never gets installed, digital subscriptions that never get used and boxes of equipment that are incompatible with existing infrastructure and systems. Today’s education technology projects have what it takes to transform learning and student achievement, but they require coordination and buy-in from all parts of the organization. Planning around conversion, curriculum and collaboration (the 3 Cs) is one key to success. of IT decision-makers say classroom and instructional technologies are extremely or very important to learning. 94% CONVERSION Mobile and cloud-based solutions are the baseline expectations for many students and teachers. Converting legacy technology to mobile, cloud- based solutions allows students and teachers to partake in anytime, anywhere learning and flexible learning environments. STEPS TO IMPLEMENTATION: DEVELOP A SHARED VISION FOR THE CONVERSION If a holistic plan does not yet exist, consider tapping a few classrooms to pilot a cloud-based mobile environment and give teachers extra time to experiment with new devices and technology. Generating school-specific feedback from front-line users will help shape a plan to keep participants energized from initial rollout through implementation. ASSESS INFRASTRUCTURE AND DEVICE ENVIRONMENT Assess the existing environment to help determine gaps in infrastructure. An inventory of wireless networks, existing devices and software will provide the basis for a fresh start. ESTABLISH TIMELINES AND ACCOUNT FOR THE UNEXPECTED Aim for a timeline that is assertive without being unrealistic. One area in which many projects fail is the time needed to work out unexpected problems. Plan for unforeseen events to retain control over the conversion and, if needed, the public relations narrative. KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK: Is there a plan for continual, comprehensive professional development that addresses pedagogy changes as well as technology? What are the timelines and rollout procedures? What are the goals and vision for transforming the learning environment? What kind of technical, instructional and leadership expertise is needed to make the transformation? What are we trying to achieve with the devices? Will schools provide the devices? Who will manage the devices? Will students be allowed to take them home? Will every student be given a device? Will the current network bandwidth be adequate?
  3. 3. COLLABORATION Transitioning to project-based and team-oriented learning benefits students by building real-world skills coveted by employers. Conflict resolution, critical thinking and public speaking are just some of the skills that develop when collaboration and active learning occurs in the classroom. Teachers also benefit by collaborating with colleagues across campuses. STEPS TO IMPLEMENTATION: PROVIDE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Many teachers and administrators embrace the idea of project-based learning, but often need professional development and mentor support to get started. Develop a culture of experimentation by encouraging teachers to test new strategies without fear of failure. CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT CONDUCIVE TO GROUP WORK Configure classrooms to support peer-to-peer learning and group creation. This can include flexible furniture layouts, moving the instructor to the middle of the room, and offering varied seating and presentation options. EQUIP STUDENTS AND TEACHERS WITH TOOLS FOR SUCCESS Find solutions that facilitate group work and support multiple devices. Students may be most comfortable with their own devices, or schools may be more comfortable providing standardized devices to all students. Technology should capture students’ creativity instead of constraining it. KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK: Can students capture and transfer their ideas using the technology provided? Do students and teachers have the tools to continue classroom work at home or in virtual spaces? Do students have access to physical and digital technology that facilitates collaboration? Can collaboration extend to other schools, countries and learning environments to maximize academic growth? CURRICULUM Moving from print content to anytime, anywhere digital curriculum is an important step for many schools and districts, and it prepares students for the future. Students who move onto college will most likely encounter a fully digital curriculum, textbooks and other learning materials. STEPS TO IMPLEMENTATION: MAKE DEVICE AND CURRICULUM DECISIONS AT THE SAME TIME In today’s exploding curriculum environment, options are not device neutral. Save time by comparing digital curriculum that is offered or supported by each device, and vice versa. PREPARE THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND NETWORK FOR GROWTH Wireless networks and infrastructure must be buttressed to support digital curriculum, particularly at peak hours. Plan for increased usage among students who may be offline during the initial rollout. Expect the move to digital curriculum to continue into the foreseeable future. INCORPORATE DIGITAL AND INFORMATION LITERACY Moving to digital curriculum involves cultural changes and different expectations. While many parents take a lead in monitoring habits and students’ digital footprint, teachers can also prepare students to safely navigate their digital environments. KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK: How is the digital content strategy aligned to student outcomes? How is existing digital content being leveraged to impact student learning goals? Should the curriculum be cloud-, device- or server-based? Will devices be provided by the school or students? How will the curriculum be delivered and is it compatible with offered devices? Who will manage the subscriptions, licensing and logins? Will digital curriculum decisions make sense for all ages, grades and abilities? What supplementary technologies — such as digital whiteboards, printers or e-readers — may be needed? Who will offer ongoing training and support — especially during after-school hours? How will we assess student learning? What professional development and training will teachers receive?
  4. 4. STAKEHOLDER SPOTLIGHT Successful digital transformation requires orchestrated efforts among many players to reap the advantages of powerful technologies. Here are the principal stakeholders and the role each representative plays in the digital transformation: IT: Today’s IT leaders play a crucial part in making sure purchases properly mesh with current and future infrastructure. They can predict help desk issues, assess security issues and advise on details that non-techies may overlook, such as data ownership and login problems. Academic curriculum representative: This resident pedagogy expert assesses whether technology aligns with current research, curriculum goals and state-instituted standards, and determines which products will deliver results across ages and abilities. Administration: Superintendents, principals and other administrators can clear a path to success. They know if the investment is the best use of time, human resources and dollars. Teachers: These front-line professionals are able to discern whether the technology will succeed with students and address day-to-day teaching challenges. Their definition of return on investment is in terms of precious classroom minutes to help improve student achievement. Students: Five minutes with your students will tell you more than reading through long manuals and tutorials. Don’t just stick to tech whizzes to test out your options, solicit input from students of all ages and abilities. Parents: Parents, particularly those with students in lower grades, will raise important questions around student privacy and device ownership. They also have valuable information about whether students have home internet access. Tip from the pros: Put procedures in place that require sign-offs from necessary stakeholders. For instance, at Shelby County Schools in Memphis, a signature from every teacher is required before a school can be selected for choice technology implementation projects. ACING THE 3 Cs When the 3 Cs are used to achieve digital transformation, schools receive the following benefits: improved learning outcomes, increased engagement, and college and career readiness. Cleon Franklin, director of virtual schools and online learning for Shelby County Schools in Memphis, has led many technology implementation projects throughout his district and can testify to the power of conversion, curriculum and collaboration. Digital projects have allowed Shelby County students to take advanced classes, seek personalized help from teachers and even improve family life. Parents in Franklin’s district can use school devices to access student grades, communicate with teachers and even tackle their own higher education goals, such as completing college. IMPROVED LEARNING OUTCOMES In 2012, Franklin helped Geeter Middle School pilot a program that incorporated 35 tablets into a 6th -grade math classroom, impacting more than 500 students. He characterized the results as nothing less than phenomenal. “Those students outpaced every mathematics class in the district as far as growth goes,” Franklin said. INCREASED ENGAGEMENT “The excitement levels in the classroom grew drastically. That is really what the gains can be attributed to,” he said. According to Franklin, features that felt natural and apps that provided immediate feedback excited a classroom of digital natives. “I can remember, on the day of the launch, sitting in a classroom and hearing a student literally say, ‘Today is the best day of my life.’ I cannot recreate how excited they were.” COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS The shift to digital, adaptive technology allows teachers to create individual pathways for students. “As each year passes, we have students at younger and younger ages whose parents request to take more and more rigorous content. This year, for the first time, we had a student in the 4th grade taking Algebra 1 for credit,” Franklin said. “The more rigorous courses we can expose our students to, the more prepared they will be for college.” CONCLUSION Despite the pitfalls publicized with implementation failures, it’s important to remember that students, schools and districts have much to gain from digital transformations. “Don’t let the ‘Why not?’ dominate the conversation,” Franklin said.“We can think of 1,001 reasons why we should not give a device to kids, and we’ve heard a lot of them. For all of that that is true, there are also those students who will give you an extra five to seven hours per week of focused teaching and learning.” Decision-making silos are a common problem, but with the potential for improved teaching and learning on the line, it’s time for stakeholders to join in the transformation. © 2016 e.Republic. All rights reserved. With support from: Produced by: ABOUT SAMSUNG BUSINESS As a global leader in enterprise mobility and information technology, Samsung Business provides a diverse portfolio of enterprise technologies from smartphones to wearables, tablets, digital displays, hospitality TVs and printers. We are committed to putting the business customer at the core of everything we do by delivering comprehensive products, solutions and services across diverse industries including education, retail, healthcare, hospitality and government. Samsung Business is committed to helping customers realize the promise of a digital business. For more information, please visit samsung.com/education, call 1-866-SAM-4BIZ or follow Samsung Business via Twitter: @SamsungBizUSAWHP-EDU-SUCCEEDINGWITHEDUTRANSFORMATION-JUN16CDE

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