Image: Adam.J.W.C. CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
1. Ask Why? Then Engage a Diverse Array of Stakeholders from the Beginning to Find a Good Answer.
There are millions of connected educators around the world who would be delighted to answer that question for you. You must answer it for your own education context. Best not to try doing so alone. Moving teachers and students to a digital workflow, and considering all of the associated infrastructure and cultural changes that come along with this switch, is a big deal. Bring in student and parent voices. And lift the voices of the classroom educators as facilitators whenever possible.
2. Research Models of Best Practice.
Why re-create the wheel? Get connected, if you are not already (Google Plus is a great place to start), and find a few schools or districts that share some of your demographics. Visit them or at least arrange some Google Hangouts to learn about their successes and challenges.
3. Identify and Communicate a Collectively Determined Set of Goals.
No goals = no go. There are hundreds of reasons to go Google and move everyone to a digital workflow. Long before devices arrive en masse, a community engagement process should be underway. Stop anyone in the hallway and they should be able to offer two or three reasons for making the move.
4. Develop Concrete, Achievable Goals for Student Engagement and Teacher Pedagogy.
What will school look like when every student has access to the world’s information at their fingertips? If your response is still fear that they will use Google to cheat on tests, you are not ready.
5. Get Your Network Sorted.
It all starts with wireless backbone. Until you have a plan to bolster your network, go no further. Deploying devices without reliable internet access is likely to create resentment, and undermine your goals.
6. Rethink Architecture and Scheduling.
The world of digital work upends some of our traditional methods of information transfer and socialization. Mobile devices and ubiquitous networking means students can move around the room with their learning, and your classroom doesn't have to be a grid of desks. This can open up new styles of teaching and learning in your school.
7. There's an App for That.
Many of the functions performed in teaching, learning, and administration can now be executed or aided by software. Student information systems and gradebooks were the first to be eaten by software. Now there are software applications eating some of the low level formative assessment, file cabinets, copy machines and more. Take advantage of the x-factor and save time and money. Also, consider how will you institutionalize the evaluation of digital tools (they do change rather quickly)?
8. Feeling Overwhelmed? Get help.
Engage partners who have done this before and can solve in 5 minutes the problems that would take you hours. Pay them: rely on volunteers and you may get what you pay for.
9. Plan PD.
The early adopters will tell you what you want to hear during the planning process. Those that are reticent to make the switch can later become the best advocates, but they need support; everyone does. Get a solid PD plan in place that gives your educators immediate takeaways that they can put into practice the next day.
10. Get Your Financial House in Order.
Most school systems need some up front investment capital to get a one to one project going. To make it sustainable, consider these things: re-aligning infrastructure budgets - will you really need all those computer labs anymore?, share device cost with families - many schools are doing this with an insurance plan, those Microsoft licenses used to be pretty pricey - now those same applications are free.
11. Data Security and User Privacy Are Important.
Know your FERPA rules, and make sure that all your vendors and service providers do too.
12. Start Slowly.
Small pilot programs are a fantastic idea. Test out your wireless network, your PD support, and the devices themselves in a closely watched pilot with eager innovators. Open Gmail, Drive, and Google Plus to teachers before you roll it out to students. Evaluate, and adjust.
13. Change is the New Norm. Embrace Cycles of Inquiry.
Technology changes fast. To make best use of the tools available to us, we need to learn quickly and adapt. Provide time and space for sharing, reflection, and adaptation. And institutionalize this cycle.
14. Role Model with Parallel Process.
Teachers make or break any attempt at innovation. They are pragmatists by necessity. Show them both what success looks like, and that failure is okay. Role model an entrepreneurial mindset and communicate both your successes as well as your challenges and how you are responding to them. If you want teachers to use Google Plus to increase collaboration, do it yourself. If you want teachers to implement sites-based portfolios with Google Sites, build a Google Site of your own for this implementation.
15. Bring in the Knowledge Management Experts.
The Hapara team can help you provide a framework to your 1:1 solution if you go the Google route. Hapara's tools dramatically increase formative assessment events inside and outside of the classroom, decrease file management time, and can support teachers in going deeper with project based learning, portfolio style assessment, and overall democratization of the classroom.
16. Have Fun.
We are working in a fascinating time in education right now. Students are joining class from home on sick days through Google Hangouts. Young children garner audiences of tens of thousands with blog posts about butterfly migrations. Youtube turns failed science experiments into memes. And the access to information is flattening for everyone. Plan diligently. Think deeply. And don’t forget to marvel at what is happening in front of you.