1. Do all students have the right technology needed to access content?
First, we must consider access to technology. Educators should check to see if all students have the necessary hardware, software and infrastructure to access the content. The student must-haves are devices, cases, Wi-Fi, web cameras and headphones, while teacher must-haves are devices, microphones, web cameras, network, classroom displays, speakers and cables. Beyond the recommended audio-visual technology, educators should consider all aspects that support a remote, blended or traditional learning program.
2. Do IT directors have a plan to get tools set up, deployed, protected and managed effectively?
It's important to reflect on the current gaps in capabilities and pain points by having a deployment plan with complete integration and installation services. To make deployments easier, faster and less costly, IT directors should consider white glove services that provide K-12 schools with digital classroom configuration services. They should also find solutions that streamline the replacement of damaged items, track and manage devices and consider warranty plan options that protect their EdTech investments.
3. Do IT directors have a plan to continue to support devices once deployed?
How can we be sure that every device is set up with the appropriate settings, applications and filters to make devices safe and secure? Who is managing and measuring if the devices are working? Can tech teams handle ongoing updates and helpdesk needs remotely? These are just a few of the many questions that educators should consider ensuring that the ongoing management of devices is streamlined.
IT directors can manage their entire technology ecosystem with software. They can support every device with an all-in-one device mobile device manager, leverage data analytics to identify overspending, bolster off-site filtering to keep student safe and leverage virtual helpdesk capabilities that students and teachers can use to let IT know when devices fail.
4. Can educators enrich and monitor student engagement when students are working on devices?
Teachers, administrators and instructional technology departments work overtime to transform in-classroom learning into engaging and inspiring virtual experiences. Even though every state, city, district and school has different learning needs, the goal remains the same: to build a classroom community and culture and maintain rigorous engagement with grade-level content through a flexible learning environment.
Creative and collaborative software solutions have become a cornerstone of providing powerful learning experiences for students no matter where they are. Software that enables students to be content creators and allows for collaboration in real-time is extremely powerful in any learning environment teachers and students find themselves in. When determining which software to bring into a district or classroom it’s important to start by identifying the end goal. Are we hoping students will have an opportunity to create video – musical or audio content? How about engagement with STEM learning and creativity? Perhaps the goal is to include more equitable discussion within a class. All of these (and more) can be accomplished if educators enrich and monitor student engagement with software for teaching and learning.
5. How can learning and development help educators make the most of IT investments?
The difference between barely surviving this unpredictable time and truly thriving and making the most of the technology investments is professional development (PD). PD is a catch-all word covering everything from product orientation and "how-to" training to a more in-depth pedagogical application, lesson design and ongoing coaching. How school districts approach PD is as unique as the school district itself.
These decisions are based on teachers' experiences, support teams and the time and budget available. Working with trusted professional development partners who have extensive experience in both the technology and the subject area can provide powerful learning that can facilitate long-term change.