Windham High School's Digital Learning Environment Frequently Asked Questions

Windham High School
One-to-One Digital Learning Environment
Frequently Asked Questions

General
What is a one-to-one digital learning environment?

A one to one digital learning environment is a 21st century information architecture where every student has access to global information, digital content, educational software and digital authoring tools via laptop computing. It is the intent of one-to-one environments to empower students with “anytime and anywhere” learning. Student laptops are used regularly and with purpose.

How does the one-to-one digital learning environment support the Windham High School Mission?

WHS Mission - We recognize our students have unique talents, gifts, and challenges. We empower each student to be an active learner who understands the interconnectedness of knowledge. We commit to a safe learning environment of individual responsibility, respectful action, and appreciation of diversity. We engage each student with dynamic instruction enhanced by collaboration, co-curricular opportunities, and 21st century technology. We aspire to be an exemplary school community wherein all students master lifelong skills to succeed as purposeful citizens of Windham and the world.

The one-to-one digital learning environment supports all students by providing equal access to global information and educational resources. Students will be engaged through the means of communication and information acquisition in which they already participate. This environment encourages individual responsibility, both in terms of care for property and responsibility for one’s own education. Accessible, technology-rich environments foster the development of interpersonal collaborative and 21st century skills allowing us to better prepare our students for post secondary opportunities and/or employment.

Why is Windham High School implementing the one-to-one digital learning environment rather than setting up traditional computer labs and/or mobile stations?

How we teach must reflect how our students learn. It must also reflect the world in which our students will live and work. This is a world which is rapidly changing, adapting and evolving. Our style and approach to teaching must emphasize the learning in the 21st century.

One-to-one learning environments assure equity in access to digital resources, emphasize the use of technology as an integrated tool, and engage students through the interactive, electronic environments they already utilize. In traditional computer lab settings, students who have access to technology are those enrolled in the courses that are assigned to a computer lab. This generally is restricted to specific computer, business education, technology education and graphic art courses. Core content classes have limited or no access to technology. Schools often implement mobile laptop cart solutions to address this where teachers must plan and sign up for the lab weeks in advance. In this case, teachers use technology for a single event. When the class period is over, there is a disconnect, and it may be weeks before the class will be able to use the mobile lab again. Although this might meet the need of an individual lesson, it does not provide the means to engage students in more extended projects that promote collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving skills. One to one computing makes it possible for students to access a wider array of resources to support their learning, promote communication among peers and teachers and to become fluent in their use of the technological tools of the 21st century workplace. Windham High is committed to providing students with a learning environment where all students will have equitable access and the opportunity to excel in all areas of their high school experience.

Where have similar one-to-one digitial learning programs been implemented?

One-to-one learning environments are at the cutting edge of education much as calculators and computers in schools once were. Thousands of schools across the country have implemented similar programs successfully. The state of Maine began their statewide adoption of a one-to-one initiative in early 2002. All 7th and 8th grade students received a laptop for their use 24/7. Now, several years later, many districts have chosen to expand the initiative to include high school level. There are literally thousands of districts across the country that have implemented one to one digital learning environments successfully. Several states have adopted one to one initiatives as well. The Windham School District has made site visitations to other successful one-to-one programs. With the wealth of resources and success stories, we have the opportunity to learn from other districts and ensure that we develop a thorough and successful implementation plan.

What research supports the one-to-one digital learning environment?

Substantial current research supports one-to-one computing in education as a powerful and effective environment for improving student learning and teaching 21st century skills. One study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Technology in Education evaluated the Talbot County Public Schools’ One-to-One Laptop Initiative in Easton, MD, examining the impact of laptops on ninth and tenth grade students. This study found that:
• “The data indicated that students, who received instruction using the laptops, demonstrated significantly higher achievement than students taught using more conventional classroom methods.”
• “The interaction of the teacher, the student, and the technology established a new learning process and thereby, a new learning environment.”
• “The results of the evaluation indicated that more than half of both students and teachers reported that students were more interested during lessons that used the laptops as compared to occasions when laptops were not used.”
• “Through the use of computer-based assistive technology and the resulting classroom accommodations, students with special needs were able to gain further independence and access to the general education curriculum.”
Click here for the entire evaluation document: http://www.tcps.k12.md.us/uploads/curriculum/JHU%20Year%202%20FINAL%202.pdf

Click here for a listing of more information and research on one to one learning initiatives.

Why is the one-to-one digital learning environment being implemented now?

The opening of Windham High School provides an outstanding opportunity to establish a 21st century learning environment that integrates today's digital tools, adapts to individual learning styles, and encourages collaboration and teamwork. The one-to-one digital learning environment supports the interactive, media-rich learning style of today’s students and connects to the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ Standards for Accreditation as well as the Information, Communication, and Media Literacy Skills created by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=254&Itemid=120 ).

In July of 2005, the NH Department of Education adopted new information and communication technologies standards that all schools in the state of NH must implement. The standard requires that the local school board require an integrated approach to the use of 21st century tools, including, but not limited to digital technology and communication tools, within all curriculum areas through the adoption of an information and communication technologies literacy (ICT) program in grades K – 12. Download the entire standard here: http://www.nheon.org/ictliteracy/ICTStandardsOnePage.pdf . The ICT standard requires that all students demonstrate proficiency by means of an electronic portfolio of all the national educational technology standards for students listed here:
http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForStudents/2007Standards/NETS_for_Students_2007.htm
Implementing a one to one learning environment will allow students to learn and demonstrate their proficiency in all technology standards.

In addition, Windham High School was designed with the proper infrastructure to support a 21st Century digital learning environment. It is often cost prohibitive for many schools to retrofit buildings to support this environment. Many hours of planning occurred to ensure that Windham High School’s infrastructure was designed to meet the needs of a current and future technologies in a multitude of settings.

As we begin the hiring process for the staff of Windham High School, candidates are fully aware and excited to be part this learning environment. Through the interview process, expectations are clearly communicated to potential staff so as to ensure that those that accept employment at Windham High are committed to the mission of implementing a successful digital learning environment. We have clearly attracted candidates that are excited and willing to build a successful 21st century learning environment.

Apple Partnership
Why did the District choose Apple computer as our partner in our one-to-one digital learning environment?

The Windham School Board voted unanimously to adopt a one to one learning environment for Windham High School in partnership with Apple Computer. Apple has been the leader and innovator in educational technology for many years. They have a broad experience with school districts implementing 21st century learning programs (over 2000 districts to date) and providing nationally recognized professional development programs which are essential for our success. Apple provides solid reliable and cost effective hardware designed for student use and an operating system that is secure and not susceptible to pc viruses and spyware. The Mac OS includes an integrated suite of digital authoring tools that will be used regularly by students in their coursework and to demonstrate mastery of the curriculum. Apple’s hardware allows flexible options as it has the ability to run multiple operating systems such as MS Windows and Linux. Apple is a true partner providing a “one stop shop” (hardware, software, professional development, service and support) for a successful implementation.

What about students who are familiar with or who need to be prepared for use of the Microsoft Office suite or have MS Office documents?

All computers at Windham High School will have industry standard software such as Microsoft Office loaded as well as Apple’s iLife digital multi-media authoring software. Other specific education software packages that support the curriculum will also be loaded on student laptops as needed.

What if a teacher needs to use a Windows-based software package?

Apple computers are capable of running Windows software as well as software designed for other operating systems.

Curriculum and Instruction
How will the laptop be incorporated into the curriculum?

The range of educational possibilities offered by technology today is truly extraordinary. Many textbooks can be viewed online along with supplemental curriculum materials such as self-tests, demonstration videos, and interactive presentations. Questions that come up in the course of a lesson can be researched in the moment, and information from numerous sources can be synthesized by the class as curiosity peaks. The Moodle course management system, already familiar to Windham students, facilitates student organization through digital portfolio management, online assignment submission and other course content. Opportunities for interactive classroom presentations increase with the integration of laptops with interactive whiteboards. Communication outside of the classroom increases as teachers and students collaborate online through wikis, blogs, and forums, thus expanding learning beyond the classroom walls.

How will instruction change with the one-to-one digital learning environment?

One-to-one learning programs transform classroom instruction to a more student-centered environment. Instruction is readily adapted to teachable moments of student interest, and tools and resources facilitate collaborative learning. Teachers are key to this instruction and continue to design lesson plans and assessments, deliver content to students, and individualize education to meet diverse student needs while shifting to a more adaptive and efficient learning environment. Teachers incorporate the use of the laptops into their lessons as appropriate. Laptops may not used everyday in every class where it is more appropriate and effective to deliver the content by other means.

How will the one-to-one digital learning environment prepare students for their future education and career?

Providing students with personal and immediate computer access allows us to transform learning environments and improve student learning outcomes. This in turn will not only better prepare our students for post–secondary education or the workplace, but will also give Windham students a competitive edge for colleges admissions and employment. Students will prepare electronic portfolios representing their curricular and extra-curricular high school experiences that can be submitted as part of the college or job application process.

Training and Support
How will my student learn to use his or her laptop?

The Windham School District recognizes the need for students to receive instruction in the use of their laptops. Specific skill and software instruction and development will be incorporated into courses to ensure that students use all the digital tools and resources available to them effectively. The skills and software instruction and development will be tied directly to course content in order to make it relevant and purposeful.

In addition there is an array of more in-depth computer courses from Computer Applications and Advanced Computer Applications to Web Design and Introduction to C++ Programming that are offered in the opening year and will be expanded to include more courses in later years. Students will be able to pursue more specialized areas of interest that will result in more in-depth technology skills in a specific content area.

Teachers, paraprofessionals and technical staff will be available to assist students with specific issues, and peer support will be encouraged through Advisory and after school programs. A student tech group will be formed within the first year to provide support to students and staff. In addition, the district subscribes to Atomic Learning, an online service that provides thousands of self paced online learning tutorials for many industry standard and educational software applications.

How will teachers adapt to the one-to-one teaching environment?

The Windham School District is well aware of the need for professional development to ensure the success of the one-to-one digital learning environment. We recognize that this is the single most critical component of a successful digital learning environment. Members of the planning team have already received their designated laptop and have begun exploring and working collaboratively to effectively integrate technology into the curriculum. New staff will receive their laptops in the summer with time to acclimate to them independently before receiving 5 full days of technology training prior to the start of the school year. Throughout the school year, continued teacher professional development, collaboration and training periods will focus on effectively integrating technology into the curriculum. A Technology Integration Specialist will be available to provide direct training and support for teachers throughout the school year.

What will be the role of parents in the one-to-one learning environment?

We do not expect parents to have expertise with computers or the macintosh operating system, but we do hope parents will support our one-to-one learning environment by encouraging their student to seek assistance as needed. Specific information about the one-to-one learning environment will be distributed at the beginning of the school year. There will be orientation sessions for parents and specific resources for students and parents will be available on the school district website.

Cost
How is the one-to-one digital learning environment being funded?

The funding to provide technology for the opening of Windham High School is part of the Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E) budget. This is a portion of the building project which is eligible for 30% building aid reimbursement from the Department of Education. The FF&E budget is being used for its intended purpose. The cost to outfit the high school with computers for students and staff with standard software licensing and extended warranties in year one is approximately $624,000. We realize a savings of $197,000 in year one by implementing a one-to-one model versus traditional model.

How will the one-to-one digital learning environment be funded in future years?

The Windham High School’s operating budget will contain a line item for technology acquisition, no different than the current operating budget in place to support the other Windham Schools. The budget line item to sustain the laptop purchases is expected to be approximately $220,000 per year. Due to the phasing in of student laptops and instituting a lease program, it is expected that the laptop budget would not reach this budget number until the 2013-2014 school year. Based on projected enrollments, the following table demonstrates the budget for phasing in student laptops for the following school years:

2010-2011 - $53,000
2011-2012 - $109,000
2012-2013 - $163,000
2013-2014 - $217,000

Click here to download a PDF with more details of the funding plan.

*please note that these are estimates only and will be finalized during the budget process each year

Safety and Security
How do we ensure that students are using the Internet appropriately?

The Windham School District currently utilizes an Internet filtering solution to filter inappropriate content for all users. The student laptops will have software loaded so that when they are accessing the Internet outside of the school district network, the laptop will continue to filter with the exact same restrictions and security as configured on the school network. The school district firewall and network configuration will control the activities that students can and cannot do.

How do we ensure that the students are using the computers and the school network appropriately?

The Windham High School Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), signed by all students and their parents specifically defines expectations for network and computer use. The AUP includes rules governing:
• Online Conduct
• File Storage
• Emailing
• Internet use
• Copyrights
• Downloading
• Chat
• Security
• And other activities
Students are expected to abide by the AUP and appropriate discipline action will be taken in the event of a student not adhering to the AUP acceptable uses and behavior.
In addition, student laptops can be monitored by teachers and technical staff while at school. Teachers can observe the screens of their students and even take control of a student’s computer. Reports can be produced with detailed information on application usage, Internet history and more. Students will not be able to install software or modify the configuration of the laptop without consulting Windham High School technical staff.

What is the responsibility of the student in the use of the laptop? What do they do if their laptop is not working properly?

Students will be responsible for their Windham High School issued laptops in the same way as they are responsible for any school issued property or materials (textbooks, uniforms, digital equipment, etc.). Students will be expected to bring their laptop charged to school each day. In the event that a student is unable to charge his/her laptop, there will be batteries available that he/she will be able to swap out during the school day.

If the student is experiencing technical issues with his/her laptop, he/she will bring the laptop to the high school technical staff for analysis. A laptop loaner will be provided if his/her laptop is in need of more extensive repair (hardware or software). The loaner laptop will be loaded with the student’s saved material if possible so he/she will not experience any loss in use. The Windham School District has been approved to be a self-servicing center. The high school technical staff will be certified to perform all repairs (warranty and out of warranty) and Apple will compensate the district for all warranty repairs providing a revenue source for parts no longer under warranty.

How will the district handle lost, stolen and/or misused computers?

Research of other one-to-one laptop programs indicate that lost and/or stolen laptops have not been an issue. Students take ownership of their laptops and their content. They are respectful of the equipment assigned to them. The Windham School District is currently investigating a number of options to deal with accidental damage, theft, or loss such as an insurance policy. More information will be provided as soon as the high school’s implementation plans are finalized.

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