Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mobile Computing Pilot Proposal for Sandy Plains Elementary

      Mobile Computing Pilot Proposal     
 A transformational technology vision

Sandy Plains Elementary School
2010-2011 School Year

“Teach us where we are, not where you were.”

Pilot Teachers            Karen Antley, 5th Grade
                                    Lauren Haber, 4th Grade
                                    Jennifer Pfeiffer, GT Resource, 4th & 5th Grades
Tech Integration        John Wilkins
Principal                     Harry Walker

Scope of Pilot

    IPod Touch devices will be provided to each student and three teachers in our two pilot classrooms.   One fourth grade and one fifth grade classroom have been selected to participate in our pilot. The three teachers selected for this project expressed an interest in participating in the pilot.  Control teachers at each grade level have commensurate skills in the area of technology integration.  Classroom groupings in fourth and fifth grade are heterogeneous, and represent fairly equivalent groups of students at each grade level.

Instructional Rationale

     Students in most of our elementary classrooms have limited access to technology.  In most schools, student computers are limited to one, or possibly two per classroom.  Some students have limited opportunities to use mobile laptop labs, participate in weekly technology classes in the school’s computer lab, or participate in teacher-directed lessons using Promethean boards in their classrooms.  We are not providing children with the level of access to technology they need in order to access the wealth of information available on the internet or participate in meaningful computer assisted instruction to reinforce and extend their learning. 
     The use of mobile computing devices can provide each child with a cost effective computer.  This device will provide them with instant access throughout the school day to the internet, as well as a host of educational applications for use during small group instruction. 
     Throughout the year, students in both the experimental and control groups will learn how to search and locate relevant and appropriate digital information to support authentic, student-centered inquiries.  Students will be working independently, as well as in collaborative inquiry circles as they conduct research and extend their learning.  Students in the experimental group will have access to their devices throughout the school day to conduct research related to their inquiries.  The experimental group will also use their devices to practice and extend skills and concepts when working on their own during small group time.
Research Questions

  1. Will repeated practice engaging in internet searches improve students’ ability to find relevant and appropriate digital information to support authentic, student-centered inquiries?
  2. Will access to computer-based activities during small group instruction time increase levels of task completion and student engagement.

Student Outcomes

     We will utilize two student measures to evaluate the effectiveness of our pilot program.  Pre and Post data will be analyzed, comparing outcomes of the pilot classrooms (Experimental) and the other three classrooms (Control) at each grade level.  We will also extrapolate data from our GT identified students at each grade level to determine if there are differentiated effects as a result of their participation in the pilot program.
     The first outcome will examine if participation in the pilot results in improvements in the students’ ability to access and record relevant information from the internet.  Our assessment will be an experimenter designed task, administered pre and post, at the beginning and end of the school year.  Students will be asked to search and locate specific information on the internet related to an authentic inquiry in science or social studies.   Quantitative data (i.e., the speed in which students can locate information), as well as qualitative data (the appropriateness of the information located related to the question, as well as the readability/utility of the information) will be collected to compare the effect size of the pilot and control groups.
     The second outcome will measure if participation in the pilot results in increased levels of engagement and task completion during small group/practice/application periods.  Pilot students will be engaged in IPod based activities during their small group time.  Traditional center-based activities reinforcing the same skills will be used with the control classrooms.  Data will include time sampling of student engagement, as well as the analysis of completed tasks during small group time.
     Task completion will be measured by the number of activities completed by students during a specific block of small group time. Student engagement will be measured by attention to the task during small group time using a time sampling method.  Student data will be collected in the same manner for control and experimental groups.
     As an indirect outcome, will analyze student data to determine if participation in the pilot program results in higher achievement levels on reading benchmarks and the Maryland School Assessment

Experimental Design

     In order to objectively analyze the effects of our IPod pilot program we will utilize a pretest-posttest control group design.  Students in the pilot classroom (experimental) will have access throughout the school day to an IPod touch, while students in the other three classes (control) at each grade level will access technology available in their classrooms (i.e.., Promethean Board, one or two desktops computers) and through participation in their once a week technology classes.  Given, the self-contained nature of our classrooms, we do not anticipate a great deal of communication between classes during the school hours.   Control teachers will be advised to integrate technology in their classrooms aligned with our school wide initiatives

Professional Development

     Initial professional development for staff members involved in the pilot will be provided by trainers from Apple.  Additional support may be provided by Chris O’Neal, consultant from the University of Virginia.  Initial training will focus on operation of the device and syncing stations, ITunes account management, and classroom management. 
     Pilot teachers and leadership team members will start their own wiki in order to share their learning with each other.  They will also enroll in relevant wikis including the following:

      Additional professional development will be designed and implemented as the needs of teachers and students arise during the school year.  Two additional days will be provided to pilot teachers for data analysis, collaborative planning and sharing of new learning.

Rationale for Hardware Selection

     First and foremost, the IPod Touch is not a phone, so therefore cannot be compared with the latest line of Droids such as the Incredible.  The IPod Touch does not require a monthly plan that is required of any of the smart phones on the market. When comparing IPod touch to devices such as the Archos 5 or Archos 605 WiFi, the Apple product is the best choice in terms of cost, reliability, support, and the number of types of educational applications available.

IPod Touch devices were also selected for this pilot proposal for the following reasons:

  • Cost compared to other hand held devices and netbooks
    1. The Archos 5, the nearest competitor to the IPod Touch retails for almost double the cost of the Touch ($346.99).  While the Archos 605 retails for a comparable cost to the Touch ($179.99) the reviews have found its performance to be inferior to the Touch.

  • Reliability and durability
    1. This is based on our research, as well as discussions with other school systems who are currently using IPod Touch devices (Culbreth Middle School, Chapel Hill/Carrboro School District, NC; Fluvanna School District, VA)
  • Number of embedded applications on device & Number of educational applications available, either free or at minimal cost
    1. See attached review of ITunes App Store vs. Android Market
  • Ability and relative ease in managing a class set of devices
    1. ITunes is more user friendly and has a large number of educational applications, podcast, and multi-media unavailable on Android Market
  • Availability of supporting hardware
    1. Bretford has a 30 IPod station that secures a classroom set of Touch devices while it charges and syncs each device during ht overnight hours. I was unable to find a similar piece of hardware for any other hand held device.
  • Customer support and professional development available though Apple
    1. In addition to customer support available by phone and online, the genius bars at Apple stores provide expert help without additional cost.
  • Number of wikis, blogs, and e-communities on the internet related to IPods
    1. The overwhelming majority of devices that are being used in school settings are IPods and Apple products.  The network of users, blogs, wikis and information on the internet is mind boggling.  We have already joined several user groups as we crafted our pilot proposal.

Network/Hardware Requirements

(2) Bretford IPod Syncing Carts                                                                   
(@ $1,600.00 per unit)                                                            $3,200.00

(55) 8GB Wireless IPod Touch
(@ $180 per unit)                                                                    $9,900.00

(6) Mac Book Syncing Stations -2.26GHz: 250GB 
(@ $889 per unit)                                                                    $5,334.00

(2) Wireless access points and associated wiring                                                       
(@ $1,000 per classroom)                                                       $2,000.00 

Professional Development                                                                  $2,000.00

Total Pilot Budget                                                                              $22,434.00

Funding for our pilot will be provided by FY10 Title One funds.  We will seek help from Customer and Network Support to offset the cost of network upgrades.
Timeline for Implementation

May 2010                    Submit proposal for pilot
                                    Meet with IT staff regarding access issues
June 2010                    Purchase hardware
Facilitate installation of wireless access points
July 2010                     Provide professional development for pilot teachers/leadership
Provide planning days for pilot teachers/leadership
Develop teacher designed tasks for pre, benchmark and post testing
Identify small group activities for pre, benchmark and post testing
Identify time sampling measures for pre, benchmark & post testing
Develop/identify internet lessons for use in all classrooms
Develop IPod Pilot wiki
Enroll in relevant IPod wikis
August 2010               Provide IPods to students
Conduct pretesting
Implement pilot
January 2011               Conduct benchmark testing
                                    Analyze data and determine if revisions to the pilot are indicated
May 2011                    Conduct post testing
June 2011                    Analyze pilot data
                                    Analyze 2009/2010 MSA data
Develop final report on pilot to include recommendations
Submit proposals for consideration at local & national conferences
Develop plan for 2011-2012 school year       

Parent Involvement

    All fourth and fifth grade parents will be notified of the pilot program via a letter from the principal, as well as a brief overview of the program at Back to School Night.  Parents of students in the pilot classrooms will be invited to participate in an evening information session with the leadership and pilot teams to receive additional information about the pilot.  These parents will receive regular updates on the pilot.  Given the experimental design, we will advise both group of parents not to change their behaviors or technology uses in their homes.

Planning for 2011-2012

     Given statistically significant positive results, we will seek approval for an expansion of the ITouch Pilot Program at Sandy Plains to include additional fourth and fifth grade classrooms.  Results will be shared with BCPS Leadership to consider replication of the program at other school locations.
     If results are less significant than we anticipate, our leadership and pilot team will confer with the Technology Committee, the Research Department, and the Teaching and Learning Teams to refine our program based on the students data collected during the pilot program.  We will seek approval for a second year ITouch Pilot based on revisions generated through this analysis of the data.

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