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Building a Second Generation 1-to-1 Student Device Program

No stranger to the Jamf Nation User Conference (JNUC) stage, John Wetter, Technical Services Manager at Hopkins Public Schools, took time to educate the educators and IT in the audience on how his Minnesota school district built a second generation 1-to-1 student-device choice program.

Attendees learned:

  • How the program started and its current state
  • How Hopkins got stakeholder buy-in
  • How device deployment and program rollout was powered by Jamf

Start of student-device choice program

“Technology is at the core of the learning experience at Hopkins,” said Wetter. And that couldn’t be more clearly demonstrated than when they gave their students a choice in hardware.

And while technology can be a great equalizer, it can also be a divider.

Hopkins, in a 2nd ring suburb of Minneapolis, is a public school district with 43% of the students on free and reduced lunch. Assuming that all students could afford their own devices is unrealistic.

This is why Hopkins followed up their earlier iBook and iPad programs for Middle Grade/High School students with a grade school program.

Grade school is a completely different animal: moving from structured, curricula-area based experiences moving from class to class to a more malleable day with the focus on general learning.

So Hopkins wanted to do things right.

Talking it through

They conducted listening sessions with staff so that their voices could be heard.

"Meet with your teachers," said Wetter. "This is really, really important."

Here's how they did it: they got groups together of media specialists, IT, and teaching staff to hold small group discussions. They kept open notes for transparency, and they ensured that teachers from varying grade levels were represented.

Most importantly, their questions were general and not technology based.

Their questions:

  • What's going well in your classroom?
  • What's happening that you think is providing the best impact for students?
  • What are the challenges you have in place right now?

Several things became clear:

  • Technology as a whole needed to be much more available to teachers.
  • Interactivity sounded great, but in what way? They loved interactivity, but not necessarily at the front of the room. Teacher didn't want to put kids on the spot at the front of the room.
  • They needed in-the-moment use capability: not just for planned lessons, but to be able to look up information to get answers on the fly, and to show examples that came up organically during discussions.
  • Wall space is at a premium, and taking up a whole wall with a Promethium board was not a good use of the space.
  • Their technology needs were not only digital.
  • The teachers needed professional development to learn how to get the most from the tech.

Putting it all together

With all the information at their disposal and feedback collected, the district superintendent led a conversation to move forward.

There was a district-wide emphasis on re-equipping classrooms to construct the ideal, safe and comfortable learning space, which included $875,000 a year going to furniture. This included:

  • Multi-use walls: a whole wall is a magnetic white board and projector to allow for multiple uses.
  • A classroom is not about technology but about providing a comfortable and safe place for learning to happen. They needed new tables encouraging interactivity and small groups and other structural changes.
  • All staff had a choice in the tech they could use for their own classroom management and organization.

Powering the deployment and technology initiative

Wetter called Hopkins iPad deployment a “white glove” rollout in which staff enrolled devices ahead of time, download basic apps and signed into ClassLink. The team worked for a couple of weeks preparing all of the iPads and getting them properly set up so that students could enter their lunch PINS and start learning right away.

Technical insights:

  • Ensure the SIS information is ready.
  • User Jamf Pro Smart Groups.
  • Streamline app assignments and reduce installs: allow student agency on the technical side.
  • Think about charging: how will you do it?
  • Use Apple Classroom as a classroom guide for our teachers, not as a restrictive or punitive measure.
  • Get the core four apps and Self Service set up instead of loading all of the apps for the students.

Instructional insights:

Shared language means that everyone knows what instructions mean: screens up, screens down, screen away, and putting those up on the white board in every classroom using the same language with visual cues helped students to know what was expected.

Instead of carts, Hopkins went with trays: that way, three spaces around the room could be used for trays with the devices to remove. 30 kids going toward the same place in the room to get a device is not a good use of classroom time.

Hopkins didn't leave teachers out of the learning, either: they ran iPad 101+ sessions before and after school, where teachers learned about iOS 13 and the different features available.

Apple also held out-of-the box sessions at a local apple store, focusing on apps like keynote, pages, or numbers and how to use the technology in the classroom.

The upshot

Getting stakeholder input and looping teachers in proved to be the trick toward setting up a useful, sustainable program that helped student and teachers remain engaged and informed.

Listen to teachers, keep student learning at the forefront rather than what tech they can have, and you're bound to come up with the right program for your district.