Being an educator comes with many challenges: adequately communicating with parents, lesson planning, and most importantly, offering a personalized, yet equal learning playing field. As no students are exactly alike, more schools are turning to education technology to provide a consistent learning experience no matter where the learner is in their journey.
Similar to so many other schools and districts around the country, Sewanhaka Central High School District — a district with five high schools that serves a diverse population of 8,600 students — needed to better meet the needs of its student population. After years of struggling in this area, they found a solution: iPad devices.
We recently published a case study on the district. With Sewanhaka providing such a blueprint for other districts to follow, we decided to continue their incredible story with a three-part blog series.
In part one, we’ll cover why the district decided to move to iPads and how the program impacted learning outcomes.
Selecting the right education technology
Let’s set the stage: It’s 2015 and the Sewanhaka district was challenged with educating students with a variety of learning abilities, backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses.
So, they searched for a tool to equalize student learning. During the initial technology selection process, the district piloted Microsoft Surface tablets with teachers. But Surface tablets did not fit their needs, so the district took action.
The district conducted a decision analysis — a process where teachers, students, parents and administrators collaborated to decide which devices would best serve the students. While district staff never thought they would be an iPad district, they soon realized iPads were the answer and that they were within reach.
During a technology exposition, representatives from Google, Microsoft and Apple presented how their technology would meet the district’s specific needs to 250 members of the selection committee. They went through a detailed, quantified ranking process against uniform criteria to determine the district’s best option.
Areas of consideration for Sewanhaka when comparing platforms:
- Which has the most stable, dependable operating system
- Which is most durable for students
- Which is the easiest to support
- Which has the best classroom management software
- Which is the easiest for teachers and students to use
iPad won by a landslide.
The iPad program rollout
Sewanhaka started a pilot with teachers and a small number of students in each school. The following year, all seventh and eighth grade students received iPad devices. Each year, two more grades got devices, until the final rollout in the fall of 2018. Now, every Sewanhaka student has an iPad.
iPad and the impact on learning outcomes
Sewanhaka said the district’s iPad devices not only leveled the socioeconomic playing field between students, but also serve as a huge equalizer for students with learning differences. On top of that, the district maintains a low one to two-percent breakage rate across all of their iPad devices — ensuring the education technology tools are readily available and in the hands of the students. Breakage rate for Chromebooks was 15%.
How Apple and Jamf deliver personalized learning
Today, Sewanhaka uses Jamf Pro to manage roughly 9,000 iPad and 400-plus Apple TV devices across its five high schools. The district’s implementation of a 1-to-1 iPad program has helped bridge the learning equity gap by providing personalized learning experiences. Here are more benefits:
Affording better information access: Prior to using iPad devices, students looked to their teachers and textbooks as their main sources of information. After the iPad program rollout, students were able to access information whenever they need it.
Strategic app usage: Access to graphing calculators is now standardized through the GeoGebra app, and English as a second language (ESL) students have translation apps that overcome language barriers. Rather than relying solely on someone else for translation, ESL students now control this.
Increasing participation: iPad usage increased student participation through gamification. Students who raised their hands were rewarded for that behavior. The iPad devices help more introverted students show participation in a way that works for them.
Leveling learning differences: When kids aren’t singled out for their differences it creates a more anonymous playing field and vanishes the ability for students to single out other students.
Stay tuned for our next two posts of the series where we’ll zone in on the iPad’s role in special education curriculum and securely conducting exams.
In the meantime, if you’re not already a Jamf customer, take one of our education solutions for a free test drive to see the benefits of iPad and best-of-breed Apple device management for yourself.