Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Electronic Devices Plan

ipads-3View some of the most frequently asked questions related to Hilliard City Schools’ plan to implement personal electronic devices for students.

Q. How did this concept start?

A. In October 2013, Superintendent John Marschhausen announced the formation of the Technology Task Force during his State of the Schools address. The group of students, staff and parents/community members was to look at how technology integration in classrooms was to move forward in Hilliard City Schools. There were great conversations, research, school visits and findings from the group that are being used in the development of the Personal Electronic Device Implementation Plan. Ultimately, every group said Hilliard Schools should move forward with personal electronic devices for students to ensure they are prepared for not only higher education, but the workforce of tomorrow.

Q. What is the plan?

A. Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, sixth grade schools will receive iPad mini devices for every student and iPad Air devices for every teacher. Additional iPad carts for classrooms will be added to elementary schools. During the 2015-16 school year, all middle schools will begin using iPad Mini and Air devices for both students and staff with additional iPad carts at the elementary level. By the 2016-17 school year personal electronic devices for all high school students will be implemented. However the district is not committing to a specific device at this time. Technology changes rapidly. The iPad for example is only four years old. Hilliard Schools will wait to see what new developments are available to help with the implementation of this plan at that level. This will create the needed flexibility to make plans without committing the district to technology that may be not be the best choice in two years.

Q. Why start at the sixth grade?

A. This was one of the findings from multiple groups of the Technology Task Force. It allows the district to start with a single grade level, only two school locations and still cover all geographic areas of the school district. In addition, the professional learning for staff can be targeted and the implementation costs can be spread out over multiple years. Finally it allows the district to learn from a smaller group about improvements to the implementation plan before moving onto to larger schools with multiple grade levels.

Q. Why is this necessary?

A. Hilliard Schools mission is to ensure that every student is Ready for Tomorrow. Paper textbooks and resources are not only expensive to continuously produce, they can quickly become outdated. In addition the workforce of tomorrow will have to be comfortable learning in a digital world. By reallocating existing resources, we can help students become ready for not only higher education, but the jobs and leaders of tomorrow.

Q. How will the district pay for this?

A. By reallocating resources Hilliard City Schools will pay for nearly all costs. For example, instead of purchasing more desktop and laptop computers, Hilliard Schools will purchase iPad devices for students and staff, making the devices and necessary network upgrades cost neutral. The district will also reallocate resources from various department budgets to help with the blended learning professional development opportunities and cost of digital material development. Hilliard Schools will shift the way education is delivered and the necessary resources to reach that success rather than simply adding on modern technology tools.

Q. How will we know if we are successful?

A. The Technology Task Force Findings clearly indicated that keys to success include intensive professional development for teachers as well as a philosophical shift in the way education is delivered. This plan meets these goals in multiple ways. First, many opportunities are being provided for intense professional learning for staff. For example, Hilliard Schools will again host the statewide Innovative Learning Environment Conference this summer. This great opportunity brings world renowned educational experts to Hilliard City Schools and focuses on cutting edge programs. Speakers and sessions are being selected with this initiative in mind to provide teachers with access to world-class leaders in this field. In addition, teachers will receive their devices prior to students so they have time to really develop a different way of delivering important educational content. This will be a shift to a true blended learning approach and not a replacement of existing tools.

Q. What about the network? Can the system handle this many additional devices?

A. Hilliard Schools will also reallocate resources to pay for upgrades to the district’s network. This will include improvements to the bandwidth and learning management systems. These costs will also be spread out over the three year implementation timeline.

Q. Where can I get more information?

A. The complete findings from the Technology Task Force are available online. In addition the district is hosting many communication opportunities to share information and address questions including:

  • Online Lunch with the Superintendent – This session was held on March 11, but you may view the entire presentation and lots of great questions that were addressed by district leaders.
  • Twitter Connection – 8-9 p.m. on Thursday, March 13. Simply send questions to #ASKHCS to join the conversation. Both @HilliardSchools and @drjcm will be responding.
  • Coffee Connections – March 17-21 View specific times and locations
  • Discussions with PTO/Booster Presidents and ISPTO Representatives
  • Ongoing engagement opportunities for students and parents throughout the implementation timeline will be announced