A look back and a look ahead for WDM Technology

The start of a new calendar year is a great time to take a look back and take a look ahead regarding technology in West Des Moines Iowa Schools.

//Looking back on 2011

Teacher Laptops
Providing laptops to teachers by itself isn’t innovative, however,  we made some significant changes in how laptops are deployed by giving teachers full administrative rights to their own devices.  The intent was not to push the tech support on to teachers – but instead, to provide them with full rights to install and test any software they need and choose.  More info>> http://wp.me/p1JF02-2A

Like many other districts, its been the year of the iPad.  We’ve begun our exploration of iPads through an application process where teachers could apply for 3 iPads for their classroom.  Why only 3 iPads? Our goal is make sure that its more than just a teacher tool, but also a tool that will help promote small group differeniated instruction.  At this time, we’re exploring which content areas and grade levels are most effective with iPads.  More info>>http://wp.me/p1JF02-9S

Social Media Tools
2011 will be remembered as our starting point that the district started using social media with our community.  All 14 schools now have Facebook pages and the number of groups and individuals using Twitter is on the rise.  How Twitter is used in WDMCS>>http://wp.me/s1JF02-twitter

The most popular addition to the online classroom tools this year has been Edmodo.  You’ll commonly hear kids refer to it as a “Facebook” look alike and it’s true.  Judging from the usage stats, it appears that Edmodo won’t be a passing “fad”..  Using Edmodo for discussions>> http://wp.me/p1JF02-d4  and Edmodo at Crossroads Park: http://wp.me/s1JF02-edmodo

State Technology Presentations
This fall, we had 7 staff members involved in 6 presentations at the state technology conference – the most we’ve had in years!  It’s great to see staff members out sharing their best practices!  More info: http://wp.me/s1JF02-itec11

Oct 15th PD day
On Oct 15th, the district technology team organized a district wide professional development mini-conference for staff.  Multiple sessions were offered for various grade levels.  The two most frequent feedback/remarks from the training… 1) They loved that sessions were conducted by our own staff, sharing their own best practices and 2) The mini-conference structure allowed staff to choose the sessions that were best for themselves.  More info>>http://wp.me/s1JF02-oct10am

//Looking ahead to 2012

More iPads
During Janruary, we’ll deploy the next round of 250 iPads to various grade levels.  Each time we’ve offered iPads, we have had twice as many applications as we have iPads, so it appears we still have plent of interest.  One of our goals this coming year – to dig deeper into which apps are most beneficial and WHY.  Everyone is excited about the large number of apps available, but our attention needs to turn towards HOW to use WHICH apps for the most benefit.

Digital cameras
This winter, we’ll be deploying new digital cameras to our schools.  It’s been a while since we’ve replaced digital cameras/video cameras and we believe that at around $100 each, they are a highly underrated classroom tools.  We’re working out the details now,  but we are looking to abandone the “check out” model that was previously used.  The belief is that the cameras are better used when they are assigned to a classroom that receives training.  Individuals can still borrow or check out the devices from the classrooms with cameras. In December, we conducted a course for the digital camera trainers and we’ll be announcing the deployment plans/courses in the next few weeks.

Safari Montage
We know that our subscription for Discovery Education Streaming will end on June 30th and we’ve been looking for a suitable replacement.  We’re currently running a pilot test of Safari Montage.  The pilot will end on Jan 14th.  We will then collect our last round of feedback and determine if we are going to proceed with Safari Montage or continue to shop for other options. More info>> http://wp.me/s1JF02-montage

1:1 conversations
Each year there are continued conversations among neighboring districts about going 1:1 (providing some type of mobile device for each child at certain grade levels.)  Individuals who are interested in this topic are typically asking “When?”  However, I think the conversation that needs to begin is “Why?”   Asking “why” does not imply it won’t happen – but instead signifies that it’s more important to discuss why we want it, what we expect from it, and what changes will happen because of it.  Do we expect to see exactly what we are currently doing – just electronically?  Do we expect to see students doing different tasks?  Do we expect more creation and less consumption of knowledge?   These are the conversations that need to be started….

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