Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Planning a Successful Student Laptop Roll-out

The room was overflowing with excitement as we rolled out new laptops to our thirty-four 6th graders. Our school has been an Apple 1:1 school for 12 years now, and each year we devote a couple hours to meet with students and their parents, immersing them in aspects of the school’s technology program.

If you are looking to create or revise your 1:1 program, here are some strategies that we use to built confidence and support from parents. Prepare to discuss the following:

  • Educational Benefits – Make sure parents understand the value of their investment by discussing how the laptop will be used in the classroom to help students reach higher levels of learning. Share applications, online safety concerns, and digital citizenship learning opportunities. Show outcomes of previous student-centered learning units. 
  • School Technology Plan – Disclose to parents the history behind the school’s technology plan so they understand the commitment to educational technology. Be sure they understand firewalls, wireless, adding of peripherals, etc. 
  • Parental Controls – Students go to another room and we help parents set their password, then walk them through how to set parameters for at-home use. We show them how teachers monitor students through the use of Remote Desktop, with the understanding that we prefer students establish sound habits as opposed to receiving consequences. 
  • Care and Feeding – Share with families how they can keep their laptop running at top performance, including storage, cleaning, transportation, and warranted service. 

Both students and parents sign a Laptop Agreement that acknowledges the specifics of the equipment they purchased. Students may not take receipt of the laptop until both parent and student sign this document. This is not the Technology Use Agreement. That comes later in the week.

Present at the event are members of the school's administration, a teacher, the IT team, and a member of the Technology advisory board.  Again, a united front builds confidence!

Having parents and their children at the same presentation accomplishes a number of our goals. Everyone hears the same information, a broad number of questions can be answered, parents learn how they can best support school policies, and we better understand how we can support parents. Parents also develop confidence in the school’s educational technology program. A win-win for all.

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