The American International School of Guangzhou has historically been a PC school. Previously As we began the process of going 1:1, we needed the approval of the school board. This was an easy sell, we had done our homework. We organized a technology committee with representatives from each of the schools; elementary, middle school and high school. The task of the committee was to decide what the needs of the school would be. This included the grades that would begin 1:1, the type of technology software that would best be used, and then to evaluate which platform and vendor to chose.
Who’s on First?
It was determined we would go 1:1 grades 5 – 12. Our research showed that most schools started with either grade 5 or 6 as the place to begin. Much to the chagrin of the MS and HS, the administration chose to start our 1:1 program with the Grade 5 classes. We have four classes of 22 students in each. Their choice was a good one. The school would purchase and own the laptops used in grade 5. It was determined that we wanted to create a controlled experiment when we started. By starting in grade 5, we are able to test our implementation with our already established infrastructure, keep the laptops at school at all times, and have total control over their use with a smaller group.
Initially we determined to add two grade levels per year, one middle school and one high school. This decision changed however, due to other factors mentioned below.
The technology committee was asked how teachers would use the computers. The administration wanted to avoid the $1000 pencil at all costs. How would the technology, laptops in particular, be integrated into the curriculum? We didn’t want to have the computers drive the curriculum, rather, how would they enhance the curriculum. The committee, through research, identified best practices for the integration of computers. They didn’t identify the names of software, rather, the type of software that would be needed. Among those identified were multimedia, presentation, and word processing abilities.
The technology committee put out bids to vendors, both PC and Mac. It should be noted the committee had varied backgrounds; about 35% were Mac users. The Director of Technology as well as the elementary and high school technology facilitators were all PC users. The school presently uses Dell and HP laptop and desktop computers.
Among the different types of software identified they also determined they wanted an on-site repair technician as well as on-going professional development for staff. We invited bids from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Apple. HP decided to drop out of the bidding. They did not want to provide an on-site technician. Dell and Lenovo gave very good presentations but it was also noted that they had no experience with on-site technicians and on-going professional development. They did put this into their bid.
The committee after listening to all four presentations decided unanimously to go with Apple computer. Their presentation showed us a plethora of integrated software that was created by Apple, for Apple. The integration of the software would be seamless. They are working with more than 24 international schools in China and Hong Kong. They would provide four free sessions of professional development for staff, more if we are willing to pay for it. They would also provide an on-site technician once we had 300+ computers on site.
Adjustments to the Plan:
Once it was decided to go with Apple, we wanted to be sure to have the technician on site. It was then decided to change our roll out time line. Grade 5 is presently 1:1 using HP computers. Second semester we would purchase 90 Macbook computers for grade 5 students and 20 MacBook Pro computers for grade 5 teachers, middle school core teachers, and our tech staff. This change was made so we could have a technician on staff as well as getting the Mac’s into the hands of our middle school staff for six months before the students get theirs. Hopefully the grade 5 teachers will be able to grow with their students.