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1:1 initiatives in K12 schools

Executing 1:1 Initiatives: Best Practices for K-12 Schools

1:1 initiatives in K12 schools

Over the past several years, 1:1 initiatives have taken K-12 schools by storm. Students now have equitable access to computers, tablets, and digital resources that let them take their education far beyond the front and back pages of a physical textbook.

It all sounds great—and it is—however, executing an effective 1:1 technology initiative requires some serious planning and elbow grease. School districts need to build their digital infrastructure and give K-12 faculty ample resources to see the true benefits of 1:1.

If you’re planning (or refining) your district’s 1:1 process, this article is a great place to start. Here are a few best practices to execute your 1:1 plan successfully.

Build Up Your Infrastructure

One device per student sounds simple on paper—until you realize that all those devices are competing for the same amount of bandwidth. Without a robust digital infrastructure, K-12 faculty and students will experience page load times that rival the old dial-up days of computers.

Internet connectivity and access are the names of the game here. IT managers will need to investigate the best-suited equipment to support a K-12 environment. A few smart (and necessary) investments are:

Cloud-based network management: K-12 IT administrators can use a cloud-based solution to manage their school network. Look for support solutions that offer:

  • One-touch installation
  • Remote monitoring and maintenance
  • Captive portal that provides a guest login for public WiFi access

Network devices: School IT admins can choose between switches, wireless access points, or WiFi mesh systems to provide internet access on campus. Consult with an IT provider to determine which network devices (and how many) are needed to support your school campus.

Partner support from your network provider: Many networking companies will offer “pro” or “premium” support to businesses (schools included) in exchange for an annual fee. With pro support, K-12 IT administrators have access to on-call 24/7 tech support for their network devices. This is an excellent option for schools who want to supplement their IT department with on-call network support.

Clearly Define Roles, Processes, & Systems

Here’s our controversial opinion: your school IT department should not be solely responsible for managing student devices.

There is simply no way for one school IT department to implement, support, manage, repair, and deploy thousands of devices all by themselves. However, you can ease the workload by implementing software solutions and assigning responsibilities outside of your department.

IT teams should invest in school help desk software and asset management software to deal with the support challenges created in a 1:1 learning environment. At Incident IQ, our integrated help desk and asset management solution was purpose-built to meet these challenges and support K-12 schools.

Once you’ve got the right tools under your belt, it’s time to start assigning responsibilities outside of your department. Here’s how you can distribute the workload of some common device management tasks:

Device deployments and collections: School faculty members can easily deploy and collect student devices with these three things—a barcode scanner, asset labels, and access to a school asset management system. Apply an asset label to a student device, scan it with a barcode scanner, and import the data to your school asset manager.

IT audits: Conducting regular audits is a huge time commitment for IT specialists—but not if you get your teachers involved. Using a barcode scanner or webcam, teachers can scan student devices and conduct rapid audits right from the classroom.

IT knowledge base: Your knowledge base is like a FAQ for school faculty, only better. Creating an in-depth IT knowledge base of your internal processes allows your department to quickly train school faculty on basic IT management tasks to support your 1:1 initiative.

Organize Every Detail of Device Rollout

There is no such thing as “overplanning” a device deployment. This is easily one of the biggest hurdles your department will face as you build out your 1:1 initiative. We’ve created a quick list of best practices for deploying student devices for K-12 teams as a reference guide, but here’s what else you can do to prepare.

Record a short training video for school faculty:

  1. Plan out a quick professional development video that walks viewers through the deployment process.
  2. Record an IT technician applying an asset label, using a barcode scanner, and importing the data into your school asset management system.
  3. Distribute the video ahead of time so teachers and staff can troubleshoot with your team if necessary.

Conduct an audit beforehand: Verify that you have enough devices available to distribute amongst students in your district. You should also account for additional spare devices if/when students need a replacement.

Device reassignment: One of the biggest concerns of executing a 1:1 technology initiative is that students will damage, lose, or misuse their devices—but that’s nothing you need to worry about. You can use your device audit data to view the ownership history of individual assets. Using this data, you can assign students the same devices year-over-year. This is an easy way to foster device stewardship and keep school assets safe.

Create a Support Plan for Learning Applications

Since students now have devices, take advantage! Teachers and staff can deploy 21st-century digital resources to support student learning and make the most of their screen time.

Popular web applications like BrainPop, Code.org, and Happy Numbers are creative and engaging learning applications made accessible through a 1:1 device initiative. However, it’s difficult for school IT teams to assist teachers who are all using separate tools in the classroom.

Try sending out a short survey to teachers before the beginning of the school year to resolve this. Ask them what educational apps they plan on using and if they’ll require IT support from your team. IT departments can use the survey results to see what apps are used most in the classroom

Your department can get familiar with these applications and prepare to answer troubleshooting questions ahead of time. At Incident IQ, we offer Support Flows to provide schools with troubleshooting resources around popular learning applications. These include: custom issue types, recommended resolution actions, and pre-populated knowledge bases to answer common support questions.

Maintain Visibility on Device Statuses

Keeping an eye on student laptops and device statuses is critical to the success of your 1:1 initiative. Device statuses let you know when to send in assets for repair, when to issue spares, or when to replace your student devices altogether.

Unfortunately, most IT teams don’t have 24/7 surveillance over their district assets—but what if they didn’t need it?

Instead, IT teams can use school asset management software to access device service records that span from initial deployment to the current day. These service records allow IT technicians to assess the status of school assets and forecast future repairs or replacements.

Enforce an Acceptable Use Policy

A 1:1 initiative can only work if you get all your student devices back in one piece—but how do you promote (or enforce) good device stewardship among K-12 students?

Many school districts make high school, middle school, and elementary school students and parents sign an acceptable use policy at the beginning of the year. However, without a way to enforce that policy, it’s basically a pinky promise. To ensure students adhere to school guidelines, you can apply fines to students who damage their assigned devices.

You can learn more about developing these guidelines in our article, School Chromebook Policy Tips: Fees for Damaged Devices and More.

Putting It All Together

Looking at all the steps it takes to get your 1:1 initiative up and running is pretty overwhelming—but the payoff is well worth the effort involved. Whether you’re planning on going 1:1 or if you’re a certified expert, there is one thing all IT teams have in common: they need the tools to make a 1:1 school environment possible.

At Incident IQ, we understand that most IT software isn’t built to meet the needs of K-12 schools. That’s why we designed our platform with an integrated help desk, asset manager, and an open API with pre-built connections to popular school applications like your SIS and MDM.

Schedule a demo with us to see how our tools help busy IT teams execute 1:1 in their school districts.

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