Turning Tech Rollout Obstacles into Student Learning Opportunities – Digital Promise

Turning Tech Rollout Obstacles into Student Learning Opportunities

December 16, 2014 | By

No matter how well a school prepares for a technology rollout, anyone who has been through that experience knows there are bound to be a few hiccups in the weeks after students get devices in their hands.

“During first week post-rollout we quickly discovered that kids being kids were going to test the waters of what they could do with their iPads,” says David Ruiz, a digital technology coach at V.I.D.A. Middle School in Vista, Calif. “It seemed that every personalization that they made would run into direct conflict with our management system or make the iPad into a gaming device rather than a learning device.”

V.I.D.A. Middle School is one of eight schools we are partnering with to create innovative learning environments with student tablets and 24/7 Internet access. To overcome this challenge, David and his colleague, Darlene Painter, helped students create a video informing their peers about the “Do’s and Don’ts” of iPad use and personalization.

“It was a fun way to say, ‘We know this is new and challenging but if we can agree to some ground rules we’ll all be better off in the long run,’” David adds.

In addition to V.I.D.A., three other partner schools have rolled out technology in the classroom recently and faced similar obstacles while devising creative solutions.




Students misplacing and/or losing devices.


A reason this might occur:


Let’s be honest – kids misplace everything.


A strategy to deal with or prevent this:


“On the first day after the rollout, we went through the hallways and grabbed all of the devices we could find in unlocked lockers. We told the students to start using their locks, and a lot of them chose not to.

“It was ridiculous. The whole table was full of iPads. It kind of looked like another rollout. The mass panic we caused was very effective. Now they definitely use their locks and think more about safety.” – Regina Colquitt, instructional coach at Chute Middle School, Evanston, Ill.




Some students try to access the SIM card, which holds an individual device user’s data, and ended up locking down the device.


Reasons this may occur:


One student was out of her monthly data and wanted to restart it, so she tried to solve the problem on her own to make that happen.

A parent wanted to use the device as a hotspot and couldn’t, so he started problem solving on how to make it work.

Another student was simply curious. He tried to customize his iPad and started clicking buttons.


A strategy to deal with or prevent this:


“We realized quickly that the passcode screen for the SIM card is the same [as the home passcode screen] and students didn’t actually know what they were doing was a violation of the user agreement. They were just trying to problem solve!

“A lesson learned is to be prepared to reteach all of that – what [the SIM card] is and what the expectations are – after the rollout. Besides having regular conversations in classes, our video production students are also creating a messaging campaign.” – Lisa Harrison, digital technology coach at Rancho Minerva Middle School, Vista, Calif.




“Jailbreaking.” The student went to the device settings to remove the profile and security measures.


Reasons this may occur:


We asked for explanations from students, and here’s what we heard:

“I want to personalize my device and add what I want.”

“I want to personalize my device and add what I want.”

“I want to personalize my device and add what I want.”

(See a pattern here?)


A strategy to deal with or prevent this:


“We’ve actually had very few issues with this – I think because we simply opted to give students a bit more freedom in customizing their devices. Parents agreed to become partners in this. Their students can download additional apps under their permission and guidance.

“The caveat is that the extra stuff will be removed if they need space for school-required apps. We’re now finding that they [the students] often find a great math or science app before we even can. Being able to self-select useful apps and resources is an important skill, and we’re trying to focus on that.”

Additionally: “We have two students, John and Max, who are on my tech team and troubleshoot a lot of the issues. They also help spread news and information to all of the other students- so they know the expectations.” – Gary Cipinko, instructional technology coach at King Arts Lab Middle School, Evanston, Ill.



In addition to the strategies above, all of the coaches agreed that the most important thing they did was make sure to include the students in the process. The classes and schools that sought out student involvement and ownership (organizing the rollout, helping to troubleshoot devices, etc.) had a much easier time with any issue that arose.

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