By Tanesha Dixon April 10th, 2014 4:45 PM
Some teachers see laptops or the iPad cart as the Holy Grail, a silver bullet that will somehow magically solve their differentiation, efficiency, and engagement problems in one fell swoop. There are others who see technology integration as the bane of their existence, either because it distracts from learning or is another item on their To-Do List to address and master to be deemed competent. Whether you look at educational technology with delight or dread, one thing is certain given the demands of the Common Core State Standards. You (or someone who works closely with you), will have to develop, learn, practice, and perfect your device management strategy.
For the last two years, my classroom has been a 1:1 environment. I recognize that each school and classroom is different, but I want to give you Tanesha’s Top Ten Checklist for device management. Whether you have just a few devices in your room or you’re lucky enough to be 1:1, consider these topics, and most importantly, customize a plan that suits the needs of you and your learners.
#1 Institute a check in/check out procedure.
What is the procedure in your classroom for students to retrieve and return devices? Will you do it, or will you task this to students? How long will this process take? In my classroom, I use a template with student’s names in a report cover as a sign out sheet. Two extremely helpful and responsible students are in charge of calling no more than 4 students at a time to the cart to retrieve/return their device. One student is responsible for the checklist and the other manages and oversees the handling of the devices. As their teacher, this is also my time to model and let students practice the expectations around carrying devices.
#2 Assign devices to students (for each class).
Worried that something inappropriate may happen on a device? Use your check in/check out list to assign devices to students. This limits confusion and allows students to take ownership over “their” devices.
#3 (Re)configure devices.
If there is no IT department at your school, you will need professional development on how to network, configure and/or manage the software or applications on the devices. How do you plan to update/install software or push applications to the devices? Believe it or not, YouTube and Apple have really good videos on these topics. If you are totally clueless about the terms in this section, contact your District IT support and they will guide you to the appropriate resources.
#4 Protect your devices from scratches, dust, or other wear and tear.
Hardware is a huge investment, not only in your student’s learning, but also financially. Consider if, or how, you will protect your investment. Training your students on how to carry and properly handle their devices is a great start, but what about those “Oops” and accidental moments? While a bit pricey, hard shell cases are a good investment to protect your devices from scratches, dust, or other wear and tear. Skins can also serve both a fashion and functional purpose.
#5 Find a secure place to store devices when not in use.
School districts are doing a better job of installing tracking software on their devices, but you can prevent theft yourself by using taking a few simple measures. Consider using a cart with a padlock or storing your cart in a secure location like a locked closet.
#6 Have a (re)charging schedule for your devices.
The vast majority of devices on the market will purport to have a battery that will seemingly last an entire school day. However, with frequent use by students, the reality is that the devices will need to charge at some point during the school day. When will you charge the devices so students will have a fully functional device? If you have the budget, you can splurge on a cart that charges the devices on a timer. Those of us working with a tight budget can plan to use lunch, planning period, or morning duty to give devices a quick charge.
#7 Invest in materials to properly clean and disinfect devices/peripherals.
Shout out to the germophobes. With all of the hands (including yours from time to time) that will handle a device within the span of a school day, you want to make sure your hardware doesn’t become a haven for things that could potentially make someone ill. Please, invest in proper cleaning materials for your hardware! This will not only maintain the aesthetic quality of your devices, but also ensure they remain safe for student use. Looking for a way to engage your students? Recruit student helpers and put them on a schedule to clean and disinfect your devices and/or peripherals.
#8 Have a Fair Use or Acceptable Use Policy Agreement.
No need to reinvent the wheel here. If your district or school already has a Fair or Acceptable Use Policy Agreement for students, be sure your learners have read, understood and signed this document. I use an electronic form in my class using resources from various sources to give students practice filling in forms and to introduce Google Drive. I know in real time and have an electronic copy of student responses.
#9 Student training on established classroom management terminology.
There are a few key moments in class where you may need to establish classroom management terminology. My advice: be consistent, teach, and model procedures. For example, you may develop an “attention” or “quiet” signal. If it is a tablet, you may come up with something like, “Screens down.” For laptops, I use the directive “Clamshell”.
#10 Communicate this plan to stakeholders.
Last but definitely not least, share your plan with the stakeholders in your school community. They may have additional topics or tips for you to consider. Additionally, with all of the great work you will be doing in your classroom, the work will undoubtedly scale throughout the school and everyone should speak a common language and be on one accord to ensure the proper care is taken to maintain and extend the life of your devices.
What is your best device management advice? Send your tips or comments to Tanesha’s Top Ten. You can also follow Tanesha on Twitter @i143ss.