Indiana district takes an uncommon approach to one-to-one rollout

Thousands of school districts across the country have already implemented one-to-one programs, but not Seth Hamilton ’s. Not quite.

Hamilton, who was named a 2017 NextGeneration Leader by the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN), works at the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township in Indianapolis, where the IT staff is taking a measured approach to device distribution.

“We feel like it’s pretty unique in the way we’re going about it,” Hamilton, a technology integration coordinator, tells EdScoop in an interview. “A lot of districts around us do the device first and then the [professional development] comes later. We decided to try something different.”

The district, with an IT staff of about 30 people who serve more than 11,000 students, is trying out a program it calls “tech-to-teach.”

View more of EdScoop’s interviews with innovative school CIOs.

Here’s how it works: If teachers opt in, they have to take about 12 hours of online professional development — delivered through Canvas, the district’s relatively new learning management system. Then they’re paired with someone on the IT team who acts as a sort of technology coach.

“We plan lessons together. They’re a sounding board; we can go back and forth,” Hamilton says. “It’s very relationship-based.”

Teachers then take those lesson plans — which incorporate elements of blended learning — and practice it with their students. When they’re ready, they invite the tech coach in to the class for an observation. The coach takes notes and debriefs with the teacher later, offering constructive feedback.

“Then after that point, after the observation, when we all feel comfortable that they’re really on that path to where we want them to go, they get a cart of devices for their classroom,” Hamilton says.

The teachers can take those devices with them to other classrooms, grade levels or schools within the district, should they choose to move around. The devices should be seen as a reward for hard work, not a handout.

“[The teachers have] really put in the time, through professional development, to really earn those carts and really have that foundational understanding of technology integration and blended learning and what it can really look like for Washington Township,” Hamilton says.

Hamilton also talks with EdScoop about how the district is utilizing Canvas to train teachers on implementing the International Baccalaureate framework, and how, as its schools roll out more innovative platforms, staff at every level are more cognizant of security and student data privacy issues.