Skip to main content

Realizing the unimaginable in distance learning

"When will you have every teacher completely paperless and 100% engaged in digital, student-centered learning?" If you asked me that a month ago, I would’ve given you an answer measured in years. You would have also heard a caveat that 100% paperless learning is not the goal; it's about personalized, student-centered learning using the technology to empower students and promote essential skills like creativity. Here we are, in April 2020, and we are suddenly 100% paperless. And not only are all of our teachers online, so are all of our counselors, clinicians and administrators — everyone has gone completely digital. Welcome to our unimaginable reality that, somehow, we are making work.

With 48 hours notice, the faculty of the Sewanhaka Central High School District completely re-imagined education. They are teaching students from their living rooms. They are providing counseling sessions, and the essential services for special education and ELL students, entirely online. It is all admittedly a bit messy and fluid, but it is happening. The creativity, resilience and collaboration demonstrated by our faculty are inspiring, and our students are lucky to have this continuity of instruction.

Without ever planning for a pandemic, we were prepared. As a 1-to-1 iPad district, we already had iPads in the hands of every student, and iPads and MacBooks in the hands of our faculty members. While we are in year four of our 1-to-1 program, most teachers have worked with an iPad for five years. We’ve provided professional learning opportunities through Apple Professional Learning, outside experts and through our own incredible faculty. We neither mandated paperless nor iPad-based instruction. We supported, coached and provided encouragement to transform learning while we allowed teachers to organically find approaches to instructional technology that best suited not only their style but the learning styles of their students.

When faced with the prospect of remote learning two weeks ago, our students and faculty had the skills. Everyone joined together to help one another, and learning was absolutely transformed. Students can see and hear not only their teachers, but also their friends, they visit with their counselors and clinicians and, to the greatest extent possible, they feel a bit of normalcy. Notes of thanks are coming in from faculty, students and parents. Things feel good at such a difficult time.

While the instructional transformation has been going on in plain sight, our district has built a wonderful collaboration with Jamf in the background, over the past few years. We proudly manage 10,000 devices with three devoted staff members and the support of Jamf. With Jamf's help, we developed best practices to ensure that our devices are working 100% of the time so, when we had to close the doors to our schools with less than 24-hours notice, there was absolutely no concern that we could continue to keep everything rolling along. Two weeks into our remote learning, we are so impressed with the ability of Jamf's management of Apple iPads to keep our students learning.

On very short notice, we pushed out the Google Hangouts and Google Meet apps to every iPad, pushed out remote learning wallpapers with essential information, created web clips for each school that linked students to the day's remote learning schedule and we pushed out new apps to meet the unique needs of several programs and many students. All of this is in addition to our normal Self Service catalog of nearly 400 apps, e-books and programs. With 10,000 devices now operating 24/7, on more than 9,000 unique home wireless networks, Jamf continues to keep all of our devices operating without any issues. In this new reality filled with uncertainties, Jamf is the one constant that we can count on every day.

Remote learning may never be an adequate substitute for in-person, personalized instruction, however, thanks to the incredible work by our administration, faculty, staff, students and parents, coupled with the outstanding support from Jamf and Apple, remote learning is off to a solid start in our district. We are proud to be providing continuity of instruction for our students.

Realize the unimaginable with Jamf