On Tuesday, October 1, Harwood Union Middle School invited parents and guardians to a "Roll Out" presentation for iPads which will soon be in the hands of all HUMS students. With great excitement and anticipation the HUMS teaching teams began their second year of an educational partnership with the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education (TIIE) at the University of Vermont.
Last year, TIIE provided extensive, on-site, professional development and technical support for HUMS faculty. Furthermore, through their grant program, TIIE provided in-hand technology devices for both faculty and students. This year, TIIE instructors are helping their HUMS cohorts implement a one-to-one (1:1) iPad program for Harwood middle level students. TIIE is currently conducting similar work with 13 other middle schools around the state of Vermont. More information about the HUMS project and other TIIE work can be accessed at http://www.uvm.edu/tiie/.
Harwood Middle School students and teachers are currently preparing to move forward with a 1:1 program with iPads: 130 iPads have been purchased through the Tarrant Institute Grant and Harwood purchased 20 supplemental devices to ensure one device for every student. TIIE will be researching how teachers and students are using the iPads to enhance learning as part of their statewide goal of increasing student achievement through technology integration. HUMS students are invited to participate in TIIE's research to improve technology use for middle school learners. This research will also help the school better understand how to best implement and integrate iPads in the curriculum. Participation in the research is completely voluntary, and does not impact student involvement in the 1:1 program.
HUMS parents were required to attend "Roll Out Night" in order to obtain a device for their child. They were informed of the ongoing Digital Citizenship curriculum being taught through the middle level advisory program. The curriculum was created by Common Sense Media, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that students learn to be responsible and appropriate members of the digital world. Common Sense Media also provides information for parents to give families a choice and a voice about the media they consume. Students are informed of the proper use of technology over the course of the comprehensive program. One of Common Sense Media's core beliefs in regards to the use of the Internet by young people resonates: "We can't cover their eyes, but we can teach them to see."
Although HUMS students have had access to iPads for learning during the school day since last spring, 1:1 implementation will mean that students will have the opportunity to bring the iPad home. As student access to technology for learning is expanded, HUMS faculty have already noted heightened engagement in classes and a greater level of creativity. In addition, all students are given a chance to have equal access to technology.
During Tuesday night's "Roll Out," presenters acknowledged the fact that an iPad alone will not make a difference in a student's education. It is the dedication of the faculty and staff to continue to learn, develop and refine their practice that will provide opportunities to transform teaching and learning in an engaging, student-centered manner. This work must be done in partnership with parents and the greater community in order to troubleshoot and refine iPad regulations and usage parameters. With proper student training on the scope, opportunities and tools available in the digital world, iPads become incredible tools that will empower students in ways only beginning to be realized. Approximately 85 percent of HUMS parents were present at iPad Roll Out Night, and a second night is planned for all parents who had conflicts and could not attend. The date and time of the second night will be forthcoming. Parent guests on Tuesday were invited to email questions and comments to the teams and to continue to keep lines of communication open at the launch of this revolutionary endeavor.