Teachers in Battle Ground Public Schools can teach a lesson from anywhere in their classroom, collaborate more easily with their peers, and provide on-the-fly instruction thanks to the purchase of a new set of iPads that will soon be rolled out in classrooms across the district. In an effort to provide the best tools and resources for teachers, students, and staff, Battle Ground Public Schools has made a commitment to ensure that staff has the technology and training they need to be up-to-date in a world where students are using technology on a daily basis.
Over the past three years, Battle Ground’s Technology Department has implemented an initiative to upgrade the wireless technology throughout the district and put the best mobile technology into teachers’ hands. The next phase of this initiative is to upgrade teachers' classroom technology by issuing 480 new iPad Airs. Many of the schools have received donations from PTA organizations and private donors over the past several years that have supplied iPads and tablets to students and staff for classroom learning. The new iPads, issued by the district, will help fill the gap and provide devices to teachers who do not currently have one.
For years teachers have been using desktop computers and have had limited access to laptops in the classroom. Integrating mobile devices allows teachers to break from their desk and use new technology in the classroom with students, increasing learning opportunities, and allowing the teacher to meet the specific needs of each student. “We really want teachers to use the iPads for everything,” said Technology Director Scott McDaniel during a recent training at Glenwood Heights Primary. “This is truly transformative. The more familiar they are with the device and applications the easier it is for them to use in the classroom.”
The decision to make the transition from laptops to tablets came from the district’s Technology Committee made up of administrators, teachers, staff and parents. “These tablets have a better lifespan than laptops, greater flexibility to use in the classroom, and are less expensive, allowing our budget to go further,” said McDaniel.
The choice of a tablet went beyond the budget. “A mobile option lets the teachers more authentically collaborate and work in today’s digital age,” said Evyan Wagner, Educational Technology Coordinator. “Their iPad moves from the classroom, to a meeting, to Starbucks, home, and back again. Everything is a tap away—always.”
The Technology Department is issuing the new devices in phases allowing teachers to have onsite training with Technology staff. Currently two schools have received the new iPads and trainings with four additional schools scheduled for early spring. This phase of district’s technology initiative coincides with teacher cohorts who are learning to use Google Apps for Education and the district’s pilot study of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), a teaching method where students use personal mobile technology in the classroom. “How we use technology is very important,” said McDaniel. “Students have access to information through personal devices. It’s part of our job to make sure they know how to use them responsibly. When teachers use mobile technology in the classroom they demonstrate appropriate use, show safety skills, and help students get the technology experience they need to be successful in school, work, and life.”
“Teachers wear a lot of hats and are constantly multi-tasking,” says Betsy Vixie, Reading Intervention Specialist at Daybreak Primary School. “My iPad helps me keep track of where my students are in their learning, what I need to teach next to move their learning forward, and helps me document the learning that is taking place.”
With the expansion of wireless technology and increased use of mobile devices throughout the district, questions may arise in regard to Internet safety and appropriate classroom use. “Safety is always a primary concern,” said McDaniel. “We expanded our wireless infrastructure to provide greater safety to our students and provide for reliable Internet filtering. By providing the teachers with iPads they’re teaching from anywhere in the classroom. They’re free to move and work with students and monitor students for appropriate use.”
The Technology Department will continue to train and support teachers and staff through this process. The next phase of this initiative is to increase the number of devices available for students through the BYOD program and district owned devices.