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Evaluating, Selecting, and Maximizing hardware in a blended learning environment

Evaluating, Selecting, and Maximizing hardware in a blended learning environment


This lesson provides students with the ability to conduct an environmental scan of the available hardware within the teaching environment for a blended learning approach

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Evaluating, Selecting,and Maximizing hardware in a blended learning environment

Source: Computers, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1vh5dpX; Checklist, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/U7Yb4R; Project Red Banner, Website, http://www.projectred.org/about.html; Computer Cart, Provided by the Author, Markers, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1FY3CsI; Chromebook, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1AkJ0pX; Globe, Clker, http://bit.ly/1CVSonk; Stick Figure, Clker, http://bit.ly/1JoIB83

Video Transcription

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Hello, everyone and welcome. Today, you will learn about the many factors that need to be taken into consideration as your school or school district acquires devices and chooses platforms as they move ahead in the digital age. The name of this video is called evaluating, selecting, and maximizing hardware in a blended learning environment. Let's get started.

Recently, my mother was over at my house for a visit. She's in her 80s and has decided not to enter the digital age in any way. As we sat in the living room, she heard the many beeps and alerts that so many of us have become immune to. She recalled when I had purchased my first computer, almost 25 years ago, what a big deal it was and how expensive it was. She was surprised at how many devices my family of four has.

When I started counting the tablets, phones, gaming systems, laptops, and more, I must admit, I too became shocked, and even a bit embarrassed. How did that happen? I certainly didn't plan to have so many, some of which are now obsolete. I guess if it happens at our schools, it can happen in our homes as well.

Project Red is an organization that conducted the first national study of education technology to focus on student achievement and financial implications. They help schools to successfully introduced technology into the classroom, taking into account what is best for student performance and affordability.

Schools and districts are invited to sign up and gain access to many resources and tools that will help with technology needs. We're going to begin by following the Project Red planning steps. For more information, you can visit their website at projectred.org.

Step one is to conduct an evaluation of your needs. This information is crucial before selecting any device or solution. A district's technology needs can range quite a bit from grades K through 12, which is why it's important to align your requests with a strategic plan.

You will also want to consider the learning objectives, the short term and long term funding sources available, and any anticipated changes that you can foresee over time. For example, educational resources, devices, infrastructure, changes in broadband, and student and staff population as well.

Next, when selecting devices, it's important to start by determining the learning objectives. It should never be about the device itself. It should always be about the learning. The device should support and perhaps extend those objectives. This is a message that needs to be repeated over and over again to all stakeholders. A popular post I've seen on Twitter in many forms says it best.

"Equal access in education is extremely important. Therefore, considerations should be given to moving to the cloud and standardized devices and software, thus ensuring that all students have similar experiences and opportunities. For example, moving to cloud-based storage will help with budget stability, and it will also give parents easier access to finding information online."

Transparency and communication on the subject is also extremely important.

Finally, you want to focus on maximizing. After evaluating what's needed, consider what's already available. Are there devices or funding sources currently being used for other purposes that could be possibly shifted? For example, maybe your school has budgeted for student response software, but a less expensive option might be an online platform, like Poll Everywhere.

My school has recently transitioned to Chromebooks, a lower cost device solution than laptops and Microsoft Office licenses. And instead of purchasing carts to house them, we decided to have teachers store them in their classrooms and use the savings to buy even more Chromebooks.

Sustainability. It's an important word to keep in mind. Regardless of the plan that you decide to go with, it should lead to a sustainable solution, not a one time solution. You must consider the long term implications for updates in hardware, software, infrastructure, educational resources, training, and broadband, for whatever it is you decide to go with.

Now you will want to take a needs assessment and follow these steps. Keep in mind that, as you ask yourself the following questions, you are considering them from the perspective of the four C's. Communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, and creativity. First, ask yourself, what is the current level of broadband within my school. Based on that information, what needs to change to get to the level needed in your classroom or grade level.

Next, consider if this is a sufficient level for your approach to blended learning. Again, keeping in mind the four C's. If the answer is no, what needs to change to get you there? Next, are we going with 1 to 1 or BYOD, bring your own device? If the decision is made to move to 1 to 1, or some other student device ratio, what makes the most sense? Also, what are the pros and cons of tablet solutions and Chromebook solutions?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this video, you can find many valuable tools and resources at the projectred.org website, including a comparison chart and spreadsheet that will help you with your planning. Let's go ahead and summarize. We began by looking at the projectred.org website.

Next, we followed their planning steps, which include evaluating, selecting, and maximizing hardware. And finally, we did a needs assessment. Here's some food for thought. What do you need in order to create a blended learning environment that addresses the four C's?

Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description, so you can easily target the resources you want. Thanks again for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Evaluating, Selecting, and Maximizing Hardware in a Blended Learning Environment"

(00:00-00:22) Intro

(00:23-01:08) Computer Story

(01:09-01:42) Project Red

(01:43-03:46) Planning Steps

(03:57-04:24) Sustainability

(04:25-05:45) Needs Assessment

(05:46-06:35) Summary/Food for Thought

Additional Resources

Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Technology Plan

This plan can be used to help guide your questions as you plan for technology integration with the following questions in mind: what hardware and software will we select and how? What is our goal with curriculum? What are our fiscal constraints? How will we communicate our plan to our parents? You may find this plan helpful as you work on your touchstones for this competency.

5 Examples of Blended Learning Success 

This article from Project Red includes examples of successful blended learning in schools across the country. In addition, the article connects blended learning with competency based education as defined by the Clayton Christensen Institute.
Full article here: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/06/03/blended-learning-competency-826/