Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Final Connect(ion) in Our Learning Environment

Continued from last week:

The slow march to the renewal of the PPEL began while at the same time preparations were being made to launch our connected learning initiative. We had to make plans to move forward because if the vote were successful it would leave only a few short months to put everything together and work through the logistics of getting devices into the hands of our students. Two dates were circled on the calendar, September 10th, 2013 (election day) and January 6th, 2014. If we had a successful PPEL renewal, that was the date that we would begin our journey. That summer we began a training regimen for our faculty, hedging a bit in anticipation of a successful vote. The summer training continued into early fall, taking the first two complete inservice days in order to finish getting our teachers ready for this transformation in learning. While this was occurring we were redeploying computers to the elementary school, adding a third stand alone computer lab for those students and teachers. In July of 2013, the Board adopted the Hudson 2020 visioning plan. Developed in collaboration with district stakeholders and steered through the SIAC, this strategic plan outlined 6 key recommendations that included among other things a goal to infuse technology throughout the district. It went on to recommend that any major capital outlay be delayed until after the PPEL vote.

On September 10th, 2013 the PPEL was renewed with 78.7% voter approval. The die had been cast. At the September board meeting and before seating the new board, the retiring board voted to approve a 1:1 at the high school (now coined connected learning initiative) to begin in January 2014. 

A little over a year ago we started talking about expansion. That would have been in the spring of 2015. Indeed it was earlier than what we had originally anticipated, but we were already beginning to see results and the board was anxious to move forward. The idea was floated to launch grades 7-8 in August of 2015. Logistically this wasn't something we felt we could properly execute, so we moved forward in January of 2016. But the board wasn't done. They were interested in a final expansion and were eager to move forward. There must be no mistake: this is a progressive board that has shown incredible leadership throughout this process!

After careful study, we intend to recommend third grade as the entry point to our connected learning environment, with the primary device being an iPad. That will continue to be the device of choice through the fourth grade. Beginning in grade five, students will be introduced to a laptop computer, which will be the primary device used for the remainder of the students tenure at Hudson. The approximate annual cost of our connected learning environment will be around $126,000 annually. This doesn't include costs associated with some software that will also be necessary.

It is important to remember that we have been deliberate about how we have referred to this. It is not about the device, but what students can do with the device. We are redefining student learning. Next week we'll spend some time discussing the transformation in learning that is happening in Hudson Schools and what data tells us about how learning in changing for our students.

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