Greenfield-Central Schools Journey to Digital Learning

In January of 2014 our corporation received an Innovation Planning Grant, in the amount of $30,000, from the Indiana Department of Education. The purpose of the grant was to fund the creation of a Digital Learning Implementation Plan. We began by forming a leadership team which included, Dr. Christy Hilton, Assistant Superintendent, Greg Thompson, Director of Technology, Ann Vail, Associate Superintendent, Dr. Harold Olin, Principal of GCJHS (now Superintendent), Dan Jack, Assistant Principal of G-CHS (now Principal of GCJHS), and Danny Naegeli, Teacher at G-CHS (now also part-time Technology Integration Specialist).

Our Leadership Team began our work by completing the Project 24 Digital Readiness Survey from the Alliance for Excellent Education. The survey allowed our team to gauge our corporation’s readiness to begin implementing digital learning and was integral in our overall planning process. The majority of our team then completed an 8-week Massive Open Online Course for Educators (MOOC-Ed) from North Carolina State University entitled Digital Learning Transition. This course provided our team with insights into implementing a Digital Learning Initiative and guided our work in laying the framework for our implementation plan.

Our Technology Leadership team visited Batesville Middle School and High School utilizing our Site Questions on April 18, 2014. Batesville has a 1:1 program at both levels with the MacBook Air. Their leadership team shared an overview of their work with us, provided tours of both schools, which included classroom observations and a visit to their technology resource hub. We spoke to members of their student technology support program and we participated in a round table discussion with teachers, students and building administrators.

In July of 2014 we hosted our first e-Learning Conference for Greenfield-Central teachers. Over 100 teachers participated in this conference, which included 36 sessions over two days. In addition to the sessions offered on technology integration, we shared our implementation plan with our teachers. Beginning in August 2014 Greg Thompson, Ashley Arnold and Christy Hilton conducted Tech Chats with the teaching staffs from all eight buildings. Through these Tech Chats we shared our vision for the future of technology implementation in our schools and teachers had the opportunity to ask questions and share any concerns or insights for consideration.

We held our first Technology Council Meeting at Greenfield Central Junior High School on September 3, 2014. The Council is comprised of Greenfield-Central teachers, administrators, parents and students. At this initial meeting we shared where we are at in our Digital Learning Initiative. The immediate considerations for the council included, which Tier (3 or 4) to begin a 1:1 device rollout, which device (Lenovo – Window’s Laptop or MacBook Air laptop) and which Learning Management System(s) we will employ (Canvas, Google Classroom, Moodle or My Big Campus).

After highlighting the immediate work, we shared draft forms of a parent survey and a teacher survey. The council members provided feedback on each survey and the surveys were updated to reflect the feedback. In addition, we created a separate community survey for community members who do not have a student enrolled in our school corporation. Those surveys were sent out via email to parents and teachers, and were posted on our corporation’s website, and hardcopies were sent home to parents who have requested hardcopies of student report cards.

We held our second Technology Council Meeting at Greenfield Central Junior High School on September 17, 2014. The purpose of this meeting was to review summaries of our Digital Learning Surveys. We received 233 completed Teacher/Administrator Surveys, 491 completed Parent Surveys and 18 completed Community Surveys. Ashley Arnold, Technology Integration Specialists, summarized the collected data, which is attached for your review. The data summary focused on our three main questions, which include, which Tier (3 or 4) to begin a 1:1 device rollout, which device (Lenovo – Window’s laptop or MacBook Air laptop) and which Learning Management System(s) we will employ (Canvas, Google Classroom, Moodle or My Big Campus).

Our Technology Leadership team visited Lebanon High School on September 23, 2014. Again we used our Site Visit Questions while visiting. (Lebanon High School has initiated a 1:1 student technology program with the MacBook Air.) On Tuesday, September 30, 2014 our Technology Leadership Team had a conference call with the Chief Technology Officer for Lawrence Township Schools. Lawrence has a 1:1 program with Lenovo laptops and utilizes the Canvas Learning Management System.

Our Technology Leadership team met to receive information from representatives of Apple on Thursday, September 11, 2014 and a representative from Lenovo on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. The representatives from Apple shared information about the features and functions of the MacBook Air as well as a variety of curricular resources and professional development services available from Apple’s education division. The representative from Lenovo shared information regarding the features and functions of several Lenovo laptops and tablets.

The information that we gleaned from our site visits to Lebanon High School and Batesville High School and Middle School, our conference call with Lawrence Township Schools and Apple and Lenovo vendor presentations were shared with our Technology Council at the October 1, 2014 meeting. Based upon the information shared the Technology Council voted to begin implementation at Tier IV and recommended that we adopt the Apple MacBook Air for both teachers and students.

Our Leadership Team met on October 21, 2014 to review recommendations from the Council as well as all of our collected data and information. The purpose of this meeting was to finalize a recommendation, which we brought to our Board of school trustees as a first reading at the November 10, 2014 school board meeting.

We held a Community Forum at Greenfield-Central High School on December 2, 2014 to share our Digital Learning Initiative with students, parents and community members. The attendees were excited about the recommendation and shared ideas for distribution and support.

On November 10, 2014 the Board of School Trustees approved the sale of a $2 million General Obligation bond to fund the purchase of computers and facility updates to support our Digital Learning Initiative. The Leadership Team’s recommendation of providing 13” Macbook Air laptops to all Greenfield-Central teachers and 11” MacBook Air laptops for high school students was approved by the Board of School Trustees at the December 8, 2014 school board meeting.

The State of Indiana has joined the national movement to improve our students’ College and Career readiness skill set. Greenfield-Central is a leader in preparing students for College and Careers with the wide variety of courses and programs currently offered (including, but not limited to the academies, AP courses, dual-credit courses and the variety of opportunities provided in our partnership with Walker Career Center). To enhance our students’ preparation for College and Career readiness we deemed it necessary to begin our digital learning initiative rollout with students at the high school level. All students must be prepared with 21st Century Skills. We have an immediate need to prepare our high school students with these 21st Century Skills required to continue to post-secondary programs and/or to join the workforce.

Ashley Arnold, Technology Integration Specialist, is leading our cadre of Leaders in Technology Education Specialists (LITES) . Mrs. Arnold provides monthly training sessions for our LITES and then the LITES provide those training sessions to their colleagues. The LITES are also available to answer questions to their colleagues on an as needed basis. Trainings have focused on Google Drive and now specifically to the MacBook Air laptop. We co-hosted a Summer of eLearning Conference, AppleMania!, with Southern Hancock Schools this June 2015. Over 300 teachers attended each day of AppleMania! This setting focused on the new device and how to best utilize these devices to enhance instruction at all levels. The LITES, under the guidance of Mrs. Arnold, will continue training and providing support to our teachers as we move forward into future school years.

As a part of the purchase plan we purchased a three year Applecare Repair Agreement for staff and student devices. The Applecare Repair Agreement provides for repair or replacement for any hardware failures, that are not related to an accident, and for Enterprise level help desk support for our technology staff. In addition, we will receive one year of telephone Applecare support for staff and student devices. This will allow staff, students and their parents to call Applecare with any questions or problems they may have with a Greenfield-Central issued device. The Applecare phone line is open 7-days a week from 8:00AM-11:00PM.

Our Technology Council is charged with the task of assisting with recommendations of a student handbook, transitioning from our current AUP to a RUP, technology training plans for teachers, students and parents as well as device management and student protocols.

Apple representatives conducted a kick-off session for all G-C CSC teachers on Thursday, February 5, 2015 in the Greenfield-Central High School Auditorium. The session highlighted for our teachers the features offered by the Macbook Air and shared the possibilities to enhance instruction in ways that only a MacBook can afford. The high school teachers then moved to the library center where their gift-wrapped Macbook Air laptops were waiting. It felt a lot like Christmas! The high school administration hosted a breakfast on Friday, February 6, 2015 where they shared expectations for use of the laptops, identified support options, including technology integration specialists, technology resource assistants and the new Tech Cadet helpdesk as well as upcoming professional development opportunities.

Teachers in the other 7 G-C schools received their laptops at scheduled meetings throughout February 2015. The LITES from each building will assist our technology integration specialists and technology staff with helping teachers become acclimated with their new MacBook laptops. LITES training sessions for the remainder of the 2014-15 school year will focus on developing proficiency with the MacBook Air.

Our Leadership committee had originally planned to include a learning management system (along with the device and tier) in this Fall 2014 recommendation to the Board. Through our planning and investigative process we determined that adopting a new device in addition to a learning management system would exceed our ability to provided the needed training to our teachers. Therefore, it is now part of our plan to consider learning management systems during the 2016-17 school year with implementation in the fall of 2017. We currently have teachers in the corporation using Moodle, Canvas and Google Classroom. Teachers will have the opportunity to continue to use those Learning Management Systems during the 2015-16 school year.

In March of 2015 we were one of 19 Indiana school districts to receive almost $100,000 via a Digital Learning Grant from the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of eLearning. We are using the funds to partner with Five-Star Technology Solutions to support our junior high and high school teachers with our Digital Conversion. A portion of the grant paid for Apple iBooks training with teachers who teach grades 7-12 to offer an interactive format for curriculum delivery. During summer 2015 Five-Star consultants will work with G-C teachers who teach grades 7-12 to create and curate digital content. Five-Star will continue to work with teaching teams, by department, in half-day sessions as our teachers extend their digital conversion work throughout the 2015-16 school year. Grant funds will also be used to purchase charging carts, storage lockers as well as charging stations for each classroom at Greenfield-Central High School.

We distributed MacBook Air laptops to Greenfield-Central High School students the week prior to the start of the 2015-16 school year. This distribution included quick getting started guidance and support as well as important contact information for device support and maintenance.  Our Technology Cadets worked with our Technology Integration Specialists to create the training videos and materials.

Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, we began providing our junior high students with the 11” MacBook Air laptop. We also increased the number of iPad carts available in our Tier I and Tier II schools. We will also investigate the option of implementing MacBook Air laptops with grade six students in the future. In addition, we will need to update iPads for Tier I teachers to continue to support the standards-based report card, Response to Instruction activities and student assessments.

Our Leadership Team would like to say a special thank you to all of the administrators and staff members of other Indiana schools who provided guidance and support to aid us on our Digital Learning journey. The schools include: Avon CSC, Center Grove CSC, Evansville Vanderburgh SC, Madison-Grant USC, Monroe County CSC, MSD Lawrence Township, Noblesville Schools, North Daviess CS, North Miami CS, Penn-Harris-Madison CSC, Plymouth CSD, Southern Hancock CSC, South Vermillion CSC, Warsaw CS, and Zionsville CSC.

We also want to thank the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of eLearning. This work would not be possible without your hard work and dedication!