The iPad initiative really came about because of brainstorming how to better use cell phones for instruction and also enhance blended online and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) classes. I had discussions with educators, administrators and state department folks concerning technology initiatives while serving on the ACCESS Distance Learning Reauthorization Team two years ago. I was not convinced that ACCESS, labs, carts, etc. would also be the answer for our future technology enhancements for students. I researched 1.1 initiatives over the past few years. I was unable find ones specific to iPads until I learned that Austin Westlake would be presenting their pilot program at the 2012 NASSP Conference Tampa in early March.
Terry Smith, the associate principal at Hoover High School, and I both attended the Austin Westlake presentation at NASSP. Both of use came away convinced this could be the magic bullet for 21st century technology development for Hoover High. I spoke to Linda Rawlings, then principal of Westlake the following day about visiting to observe the pilot program in place. Rawlings stated that visits to Westlake were booked until early fall. After returning to HHS, I initiated a conversation with Mr. Andy Craig regarding the pilot at Westlake. He was absolutely as fired up as I was about the pilot program. I stated that I was going to send a team to Westlake in the fall. The more I thought about the pilot the more I wanted to take Mr. Craig to see it action as soon as possible.
On a whim the first week of April, I called Rawlings to basically beg for an earlier visit. She stated she would fit us in on April 17 if we could work out the logistics. Back to Andy, he thought that if this was indeed something as good as it seemed, he would have to sell it to central office, school board, community, etc… the best way to do this would be to have HHS and Spain Park (the other high school in our district) representatives visit along with central office personnel. A team was rapidly assembled and I confirmed the visit with Westlake officials. The team flew to Austin on April 16. Prior to the visit, I was amazed at the varying levels of interest in the pilot. The majority of our teachers were not on board with idea. The visit absolutely changed the level of interest from all participants. Some still to varying degrees. During the visit it became apparent to us all that Mr. Craig began to really believe that a technology initiative was right for Hoover City Schools. Big question- how to make it happen?
Conversations became limited after the visit, but I did not want to drop the idea. My belief grew that we were going to do an iPad pilot at HHS come hell or high water. If I had to find funding, I would. Conversations heated up at the central office level. Ron Dodson (Assistant Superintendent), Bryan Phillips (Chief Technology Officer), Mr. Craig, and others really put the petal to the metal in forming this into the Engaged Learning Initiative to incorporate what was already being done with the Nooks at the elementary levels (Pilot for Nooks already underway). Mr. Craig did a phenomenal job of justifying the funding based on focusing updating technologies with iPads. Bryan Phillips and his staff worked through the enormous tech issues. Dr. Dodson worked through the instructional concerns and I formed a HHS iPad initiative team in early May to explore ways to implement iPad use in classrooms.
The HHS iPad Committee met the first week of May. Their goal was to develop a detailed plan of how they could incorporate the use of iPads in their individual classrooms. The feedback was phenomenal. This information was passed to Mr. Craig and Dr. Dodson. Dr. Dodson requested that five representatives from both high schools meet with Apple on May 16- basically an informational meeting to discuss logistics and explore educational apps. After presentation, detailed discussion centered on if we were going to move this forward and to what level. After debate, decision was made to pilot senior classes at both high schools for beginning of school year. Also, all faculty would receive iPads in initial phase. Another grade level after budgets in Oct would be added- 11th grade. In the summer of 2013, remaining classes would be added if the pilot was successful.
This time frame is prudent. It will allow us not to invest all of the required capital initially. Time will allow data to be gathered which hopefully will prove the validity of the process. The Hoover city 1.1 instructional technology initiative plan will be the guiding document for goals, strategies, and desired outcomes. Is will guide us in the "why" process of the initiative. Concerns/fears were discussed. Many of these centered on flip classrooms, instructional improvement, shift from writing, etc… Nook tablets will be used at grades 3-8. iPads 9-12. ISTE NETS model will be used to guide student and faculty processes. Products and ancillary needs were ordered and most have arrived. Planning is now focusing on implementation and professional development at this stage.