Waukesha One is a statement of belief and a commitment to meeting our students' needs in a rapidly changing world -- it is not a program or an initiative. As a result, this is not a single issue reform or change. Waukesha One is far more focused on impacting instructional practice and delivery than it is on providing devices to students. While some aspects of Waukesha One are more notable changes than others, the most meaningful changes are those that will take place in the classroom every day between students and teachers. These are the interactions that have mattered most to the quality of education our students receive, and they are the interactions that will continue to matter most. While the tools and methods used in the classroom may be enhanced, the district remains focused on placing the best instructors in front of students daily.
How will iPads be implemented in the classroom?
One key element of the iPad is its versatility. While one student may be using the iPad to research and write a paper, the next student might be using the iPad to snap a picture of a lab experiment and then annotate it to demonstrate what he/she has learned in doing an experiment. Yet another student may be shooting a video of his reading group’s discussion to be included in a digital portfolio that reflects their collaborative work, and another student may be using the iPad to find out what he/she missed in class yesterday via Blackboard, our district learning management system.
It is impossible to point to one consistent way the iPad will be used by students, but that is very much by design. In an active, engaged, focused classroom, learning takes on a wide variety of forms. Having a tool that is versatile, available in the moment, and reliable is the key to supporting a wide variety of instructional designs and learning tasks and outcomes.
With that said, let’s recognize that the hard work of learning (and I’m talking about really meaningful learning that sticks with students for a long time) has to be done by the students. Placing these tools in the hands of students, and challenging them to demonstrate their learning creatively, uniquely, and meaningfully, puts the emphasis of learning back into the hands of the students, right where it belongs. It then becomes the job of the talented staff we have in Waukesha to create the conditions for learning and the pathways to educational success.
Programs and applications: Who picks them? What criterion is used?
Our team of Instructional Technology Coordinators have selected a “core” set of applications that are intended to provide a consistent set of software tools that the teachers can rely upon students having access to. This core set has been selected after careful review of the existing applications and after talking with other districts and professionals about the best tools for the job.
It should be noted that we want to avoid “app overload.” Just because there are hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store, and just because there might be an “app for that” doesn’t mean it should be utilized. There are a lot of factors to consider -- reliability, cost, in-app purchases, content appropriateness, functionality with other tools, etc. We have spent a lot of time thinking through this as a team, and will continue to think through this as the apps constantly change.
What will the core apps be in Waukesha?
Presently our core paid for applications, which students and staff will receive, are:
- Excellent for note taking, but also for writing over PDFs. Great way for students to write over the top of a pdf that a teacher has shared with students. Also great for teachers to respond to a student’s work if shared via a PDF. Lots of flexibility, and it works well with our Google Apps for Education environment.
- This application offers students and teachers an ability to make VERY engaging, complex or very simple, direct “screen casts” where voice/audio, images, a digital whiteboard, and video can all work together. Great for a “flipped classroom” model where a teacher frames knowledge for students in a way that can be later reviewed, paused, replayed, etc. Incredibly good for students to demonstrate not only their work, but also their thinking. Imagine a student doing a math problem on a digital whiteboard, talking through the problem, and then sharing with his/her teacher. It provides insight into the thought process as well as if the answer is correct/incorrect. This holds true for nearly all instructional areas.
- The school district has a wide implementation of SMART Boards and many staff who use the SMART Notebook software to create engaging, interactive lessons and problems. Harnessing the power of the touch technology on an iPad, every student can be shared a copy of that SMART Notebook lesson, and every student with an iPad can interact with the lesson to demonstrate learning.
- ePub (eBook) publishing is a means by which students can “publish” a collection of their thoughts or works to be easily viewed by a teacher in a digital way (eliminating printing costs, and providing a far more interactive end product). Book Creator puts the power of eBook creation in the hands of the students. All of the functionality of PowerPoint, the typing/publishing ability of Word, meets the interactivity of the iPad.
- Video editing labs and studios use to be expensive and difficult to navigate. An iPad now serves as the video camera and the editing studio all in one. While not as fully featured as the big video editing platforms out there, the mobility and ease of use of iMovie to help students demonstrate knowledge, to help teachers publish instructional resources in interesting ways, and to allow students to create, collaborate, and communicate in meaningful ways is in the hands of each student.
- While GarageBand sounds like an app that is aimed primarily as students making digital music, it is an app that can be used to capture any kind of sound. A student could use it to record his/her teacher talking. They could use it to generate a auditory response to a prompt or post. They could use it to create a soundtrack to a video or “radio” commercial to demonstrate learning. Another very flexible tool that will come in handy for students as they work.
Can students, parents, and teachers choose their own apps?
Another great benefit of the iPad is that it is designed as a user-centered device. Students and parents will be able to add apps to the device that they deem meaningful and academically helpful. While one student may elect to take notes with notability, another may be very interested in something like Evernote. That is okay and healthy. It provides the student greater ownership in his/her learning experience.
We are definitely encouraging parents to take an active role in this. Little things, like sitting with your son or daughter to review an app prior to installation, maintaining the password to the Apple ID on that device, and having device “turn-in” at home, are all key steps to provide parents with an awareness of how these tools are being used.