Chapter 10 of Educational Leadership and Planning for Technology by Anthony G. Picciano focuses on the selection of hardware and software for a school system (2010, pp. 186-213). This topic has me reflecting on my many years as a teacher and how things have shifted. When I started teaching in 2000, I was an instructional support aide for our tech coach at an elementary school. I taught first through fifth grades in the computer lab as a specials teacher. Back then, the students were only exposed to technology when they came to the computer lab with me or their teacher. The main emphasis of instruction was on the Microsoft product suite (Powerpoint, Excel, and Word) and the use of software such as Tom Snyder products which was basically skill-and-drill software which helped students practice basic concepts in an engaging way. Software was reviewed and recommended from the staff.
When I started to teach full-time in the classroom, two desktop computers and a computer lab continue to be the only hardware my students were exposed to. Fast forward many years to the year 2010, when our school district was piloting 1:1 program with Nook Tablet Readers. The district was ready to explore 1:1 computing in order to for our teachers to utilize technology in order to transform teaching. Picciano identifies seven key elements to analyze hardware: performance, compatibility, expandability, ergonomics, software availability, vendor, and cost (2010, p. 190). Most of these elements were in place except performance and software availability. Even though our wireless network was still new, it was strong enough to hold the new 1:1 devices. Unfortunately, the Nooks performed like what they were, a tablet, and not what we wanted them to be, a laptop. The software was limited to the apps and books created by an outside vendor. However, this was the best product on the market at the time. In 2014, the middle schools in my district started to pilot Chromebooks which were still new to the market. The pilot was a success and software (Google suite with addition apps and extensions) along with performance proved the Chromebook’s reliability.
During the planning phase of implementing Chromebooks 1:1 in the classroom, I was still a classroom teacher and was not part of the planning and preparing. However, there are many resources available to schools who wish to move forward with a 1:1 roll out. Common Sense Media offers a complete 1-to-1 Essentials Program which includes detailed phases of a successful program (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1) which includes phase 1: envision, phase 2: communicate, and phase 3: implement.
Picciano suggests in chapter 10 (2010) that districts have a way to evaluate instructional hardware and software. Compared to many years ago when I was in the computer lab, districts who are purchasing software and hardware not only have their staff to recommend but can also get advice from a more global audience. By leaning on other districts’ successes and struggles and researching new trends in software and hardware, I believe districts currently have a great chance for success when purchasing new equipment and software.
1-to-1 Essentials Program | Common Sense Media. (2016). Commonsensemedia.org. Retrieved 25 March 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators
Picciano, A.G. (2011). Educational Leadership and Planning for Technology (5th ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.