Administrator Perspective- Jeff Hill

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Superintendent Jeff Hill. Dr. Hill was the principal at U-High during the initial years of the laptop one-to-one.

What was your overall goal for implementing a one to one?

“Technology was the tool for us to increase student engagement. Technology allows us to enhance curriculum and facilitate a learning by doing environment. The focus on increasing student engagement led to making sure each student had access to a computer during instruction.”

What were your initial concerns and obstacles?

“Not all teachers were ready for every student to have a computer. I was concerned about teachers getting adequate professional development. I was also concerned about costs to parents, especially if not all faculty would be ready to utilize one to one technology.”

How did you go about addressing those issues?

“Four years prior to the true one-to-one initiative, we began equipping the classrooms of teachers who were ready first with full sets of laptops that would stay within the classroom. This involved four classrooms and around 8 teachers the first year, four more classrooms and an additional group of faculty the following year, and similar additions the following years. This made the process much more gradual- teachers had the opportunity to develop lessons knowing that they would have laptops for each student.

At the same time, we were strategically working to grow the group by encouraging faculty to share information about lessons, teaching strategies, and curriculum during all department and faculty meetings.

We also held monthly professional group sessions for those in the original cohort. Faculty could share strategies, conduct peer observations, and look at information based on student feedback.”

At what point did the decision to move to a full-fledged one-to-one occur?

“Well, as we added rooms, more faculty expressed interest and demonstrated readiness to the point where even though we had equipped two-thirds of our classrooms we still found ourselves short of having enough technology for all the faculty who wanted to use it for classes. At that point, the one-to-one just happened.

Once we moved to one to one, the tech fee increased, but only by $25 a year, and by this time, parents and students had been seeing the results of a more technology-rich environment.”

So where do you feel like the initiative is at currently?

“Technology remains a major tool to use. Key foundational items like Blackboard, Skyward, One note, and others are part of our culture. Faculty teach one another how to utilize these tools.

Profesional devleopment has become highly individualized.

Cost has been absorbed, but we still need to analyze the most efficient way to provide technology that is dependable in the learning environment.

Our next thing to tackle is to figure out how we can leverage technology to make the learning environment more individualized and flexible.”

On balance, what lesson(s) have been learnt in all this?

“I think this emphasizes the idea that technology is a tool to use, not a goal to be achieved. Ultimately we are using technology, hopefully, to meet students learning needs. So we must explore whatever means necessary to meet those learning needs. The issue of balance meant that we weren’t interested in all things technology, but all things learning. So it is the right combination of teaching strategies, classroom environment and assessment that lead to student engagement. As Jim Collins indicated in Good to Great, technology is an accelerator. All enduring great companies found a way to utilize technology to assist them in meeting their main goal. Again, technology wasn’t the main goal, but one of the means to an end.”