I took a leap! I started diving into Hapara last week, since providing PD on its Workspaces feature is one of my goals/objectives. I explored the discovery workspaces, and while navigating around their site, I found their certification program. The first is the Hapara Champion Educator course. It's planned for six weeks, but can be completed in three. It just so happens registration was still open for the course beginning today! I registered last week, but started today. Just introductory stuff so far - join their community, post an introduction, follow them on Twitter. There are just three units after the introductory unit- Highlights, Dashboard, and Workspace. I'll keep you posted!
Dr. Pryor emailed me back and shared some results from the many needs analyses he did. In addition to preliminary surveys, he visited each school in our district. At the schools, he met with the admin, the media specialist, a teacher focus group, and a student focus group. He met with each group separately, getting their input on the next student device. He even sent me a word cloud from the responses he received.
The two devices he has chosen to pilot are the HP Chromebook 11A G6 and the Lenovo 100e 2nd Gen. From what I can see, both have 4 GB of memory, but the Lenovo has 32GB of storage while the HP only has 16GB. I'm trying to be impartial, but I recognize that I am somewhat biased on multiple fronts. At home, we use Macs and Lenovos, so I have a brand bias already. Also, since our current student device is an HP, I don't really want another one. We've had so, so many repair issues. They really did seem to be an inferior product. That being said, the new HP passed around at our meeting definitely felt more rugged, but I did think the workmanship and quality of the Lenovo appeared to be better. Those are just initial impressions. The real tests will come once they are in the hands of my middle schoolers.
The snap-on cases for both devices have rubberized corners and have comparable price points in the $22-$23 range. The interesting thing is that Dr. Pryor is including the cases in the RFP. He will gather more input from stakeholders to determine if we will keep our current model of the case following the child. He likes the idea that the kids could personalize them, add stickers, etc., but replacement costs were a bigger issue than anticipated the last go round, so there is a discussion about whether or not the district should replace the cases each year. This option sounds great, but needs to be looked at with a long-range view. I would be worried that the district would not be able to sustain that expense and it would be passed on to the schools. Our high schools could probably manage it, but my little middle school could not carry that kind of expense!
I spent most of the day in meetings! This morning I sat in on grade level meetings with Dr. Vinson. She visits each school in our district once a month for technology integration professional development. I learned something new and was able to add a few things to my tech tool box. I received admin rights in Hapara, so I can see all classes at my school. Now, I can start to play around with its workspace feature so I can begin compiling training materials for our school staff. This afternoon, I got an update from Dr. Pryor, Asst. Superintendent of Accountability and Technology, in our district library media specialists meeting about the devices we are going to pilot. One is an HP and one is a Lenovo. Specs are very similar with only a real notable difference in the processors. The Lenovo is Intel. The HP is AMD. Both have an 180 degree hinge, durable shell, pick-proof keyboard, and drop-tested snap-on case. The case on the Lenovo even has a drain hole on the bottom for accidental spills, and a clear view window for the model and serial numbers (something we librarians really liked.) After the meeting, I sent an email to Dr. Pryor requesting access to his needs analysis and data collection that drove his decision. I hope he shares! It could be an invaluable learning tool for me! The snap-on case is an important feature for us this go round. It seems minor, but you just don't realize the expense of replacing and repairing carrying cases. Our students already carry so much. It will be much easier for them to have a durable solution that they can carry inside of their backpacks. This portability feature was one of the reasons for choosing the smaller 11.6" size. Our current device is the 14" HP G4. Here's an image of the current Chromebook and carrying case.
.I am super-excited because Dr. Winslow has told me that I don't need to pick just one of these leadership opportunities for this course. Rather, since I will be serving as an "apprentice" to Dr. Vinson, I can blog about all of my experiences. The description of my field experience is in my first post. Here's how it aligns to our course SLOs.
Develop a shared vision to lead an instructional technology innovation to improve teaching, learning and performance for a professional audience.
Of the opportunities before me, providing professional development on Hapara and its workspace feature seems to fit this objective best. I'll study Hapara, take advantage of its resources, and become a super-user or expert at my school. Then, I'll lead training sessions with training materials that I developed and/or curated for my teachers.
Collaborate with decision-makers to evaluate and select technology tools and strategies that improve teaching, learning and performance.
I will have an important role piloting new Chromebooks at my school. The district has already chosen two devices to pilot. I will collect data and provide a detailed, supported recommendation on which device to purchase and deploy to all of the district's students in grades 3 - 12.
Conduct needs assessments to inform the design of technology enhanced learning experiences for professional audiences.
As part of Dr. Vinson's high school tech team initiative, I will conduct needs analyses at each of our district's two high schools to determine what content-specific technology integration needs their teachers have. Based on our findings, Dr. Vinson and I will search for technology solutions that we will then present to the tech teams. We will teach them, and they will roll out to the teachers at their respective schools.
Design, develop and implement technology enhanced learning experiences that demonstrate best practices for adult learners.
Both the Hapara and high school tech team initiatives will provide an opportunity for me to design learning experiences for the teachers in our district. In addition, our library media specialist team is leading several district-level professional development sessions.
Evaluate the results of technology enhanced learning experiences for professional audiences to measure impact and guide future improvement.
The Hapara initiative provides the best opportunity for measurement of effectiveness. If effective, my training materials could be used, or I could even be asked to LEAD the training, at other schools in the district.
Apply best practices in effective project management to an instructional technology innovation initiative.
Best practices might be best exemplified with the device pilot at my school. I'll be collecting lots of data and using that data to drive decisions about not only which device is purchased for the district, but in how it is deployed and managed. Though I will be collecting most of the data during the pilot period, it will be a true collaborative effort with input from stakeholders.
Demonstrate continuous evaluation of professional knowledge and practices to improve the design, development and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences.
The high school tech team initiative could be an excellent example of continuous evaluation and improvement. I envision the needs assessments from year to year will evolve, new solutions will be found, and "training the trainer" will be a never-ending process as we seek to improve teaching and learning across our district.
I am so excited to be working with Dr. Lori Vinson! Dr. Vinson is the Instructional Technology Specialist for Spartanburg County School District One. She also teaches graduate educational technology classes at Converse College and USC-Upstate. We had our initial meeting this week, and have come up with some interesting opportunities for me to serve my district. The first that I am most excited about lacks a key focus - training adult learners. She and our district technology head want to pilot two new devices (we are due for a refresh of our Chromebooks). They have suggested that I lead the pilot at my school across one grade level. They have already been given the go-ahead to purchase the devices. My job, besides leading the distribution at my school, is to evaluate each device to offer a recommendation at the end of the pilot period for which device they should roll out to all grades (3-12). This will necessitate a lot of data collection from wear and repair statistics to productivity analyses and feedback from teachers and students. There is a second opportunity in our district as part of a tech team meant to provide additional content-specific professional development for our high school teachers. The team will be made up of three teachers from each of our district's two high schools and probably the district curriculum coach. Leading the team will be Dr. Vinson and ME! We will conduct needs assessments at each high school and will locate and/or provide technology resources to the team, train them how to use the resources, and then they will roll out to their schools (think train-the-trainer.) Thirdly, there is a school-level initiative that I can be a part of - Hapara Workspace. Our school piloted Hapara as a management tool for our teachers. They can monitor what their students are doing on their Chromebooks, lock down tabs, close tabs, etc. It was so successful, that the district purchased the program for all of our schools. Now, they want our teachers to start using Hapara's Workspace feature. My job, again, would be to conduct a needs analysis and to conduct PD sessions on this specific product. If successful, my training materials could be used next year in the other schools in our district. All of these are great opportunities for me - too great to turn down. Since I have the support of my district and my principal, I'm going to do all three of them this school year. In addition, as part of my new role as Dr. Vinson's "intern," I'm going to help recruit teachers and students to share technology tools on Dr. Vinson's weekly "Tech Tip Tuesday" video segments that are published our on district's YouTube channel and distributed by email to all faculty and staff. She has also asked for help in finding technology solutions for physical education, music, arts, and special education teachers. Realizing that their needs are different than our traditional content-area teachers, she is seeking to tailor tech PD specific to their needs. I am so excited about all of these opportunities. Now, on to choosing just one as the focus of my field study!