Student equity in an ever-changing learning environment has never been more important than today. By building a foundation for technology based on best practices and trust, Millard Public Schools were able to create a remote learning environment for all elementary students. In this JNUC 2020 session, Amanda Kunes, Technology Facilitator at Millard Public Schools sat down to share her experiences.
Building a foundation
Kunes and her team weren’t new to the idea of bringing technology to students; in 2018 they had already established one-to-one programs with Windows devices in the secondary schools (grades 6 – 12) in their district. This wasn’t the case in their elementary schools, however. That’s when Kunes helped put together a proposal to start getting the wheels in motion for getting devices in the hands of more students. After an Apple briefing in Cupertino, the district-level leaders agreed that Apple would be the best solution for their students grades 3 – 5. In January 2020, they had rolled out these one-to-one programs, which was incredibly timely, considering they’d be moving to remote learning in a mere two months.
So what helped facilitate this enormous change? Kunes illustrated that building a strong foundation was key. The building blocks for this foundation being:
- Transparent communication with users and district-level leaders
- Follow-through when committing to initiatives and projects (and supporting through the entire process)
- Controlled spending with budgets and coming up with innovative ways to honor that budget
- Focusing on not just the district or the user, but both simultaneously
- Establishing lean, well-documented processes that can easily be adapted to new plans
When the pandemic was then spreading across the US, Kunes was confident that they could pivot and make the switch in part thanks to the well-balanced foundation of communication, collaboration and documentation that she’d established with the community. Not only were they able to keep everyone in the loop, but they were also able to adapt their processes quickly and follow through with the necessary steps to get everyone remote.
Equity and Coping with COVID-19
At the beginning of 2020, there were conversations about equity and what they could do with the resources they had to make sure all students could get the same educational experience, no matter which school they were in. With over 25 elementary schools in the district, this meant discussing having two or three students per iPad. But then after the news of COVID-19, these conversations changed drastically as sharing devices would no longer work with remote learning. The discussion then became about setting up all students in the district for success, no matter what their current access to technology may look like.
In a sense, COVID-19 was the catalyst for having equity conversations among the schools and district-level leaders and created urgency in making decisions around technology distribution. These conversations also got the ball rolling on other initiatives in the district such as iPad deployments to support remote summer school and setting up remote iPad training for staff. Another factor in helping student equity at Millard Public Schools was the strong relationship they had with Diamond Assets, who were eager for business during the pandemic. Kunes described that the district was in possession of a multitude of old tech that she didn’t feel comfortable sending home with families, but luckily she was able to get new devices in sooner than expected thanks to their help. Because of this device refresh, iPads were able to be sent to 700 of the most in-need families in the district, families that didn’t have access to necessary equipment.
It’s clear that district and community support helped make post-COVID-19 life at Millard Public Schools a success, but Kunes also mentioned that Jamf and other remote management tools were also to thank. For example, Kunes described usually getting two weeks to get all devices ready for students, but with the unexpected change in global climate, she was forced to do the same amount of work in about a week. Luckily, Jamf helped facilitate this rapid switch and allowed Kunes and her team to use their time efficiently.
Want to hear more about the remote success at Millard Public Schools? Hear Amanda Kunes go into more detail about what really made the difference in creating a smooth remote transition by registering for JNUC 2020. You’ll get on-demand access to this session and many more!