A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a systems admin of a smaller SAU (School Administration Unit – NH School Districts) here in NH before we kicked off our last “Transforming Teaching with Technology” discussion. He was telling me how much the role of the IT department has changed with the surge of new technology, 1:1 device programs, multiple productivity platforms in play, and of course budget constraints. Many of the smaller districts aren’t standardized on one specific technology because of all these factors, and many are just managing to get by. He identified a number of pain points, and that is exactly why I want to get in front schools as often as I can.
When we do a “Transforming Teaching with Technology” event, we cover a lot of topics in a single day, and those topics tend to change as we see classroom technology evolve. However, from city to city there are always 3 things I say that make everyone sit up a little bit straighter and listen a little bit closer:
- There are Windows 10 devices that start at $189. You heard me right. I have been doing this long enough to understand that perception is a hard thing to change, and the cost of a Windows device is perceived to be high. The truth is, more K–12 schools in the US are choosing affordable Windows devices, according to Futuresource. Even 2-in-1 Windows 10 Pro devices with touch and pen are available for under $300 from manufacturers like Lenovo and HP. What’s even more exciting is that the configuration of Windows 10 S will soon be included as a “mode” on all Windows 10 editions, allowing you to switch back and forth based on security and grade-level needs.
- You can set up a classroom of Windows 10 PCs in about an hour. This is likely what IT tends to care about the most, especially those smaller departments of 1 or 2 staff. InTune for Education offers a user-friendly interface to manage applications, devices, and settings and when coupled with the Set Up School PCs you’ll have a classroom of devices deployed and ready to use in an hour. Microsoft even has a tool, School Data Sync, that reads the rosters from your SIS to create classes and groups across Office 365 products, InTune for Education, and third-party applications.
- We have so many PD options that are completely FREE for you. I am not talking about the kind of free that comes from a purchase. I am talking about completely free because we understand how important PD is in adopting all this amazing technology. The first place I start is the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) community. Everything including training paths, courses, webinars, classroom resources, and community connections live here for teachers 24 x 7. I find this site is beyond useful to your early adopters and advisory groups spearheading new initiatives. The second resource I always mention is Microsoft in the Classroom This two-hour session is typically for 20 or more teachers and can be tailored to what your current initiatives are to help introduce a new solution like Microsoft Teams or to train on new features like Immersive Reader in Microsoft Learning Tools.
While I am the one in the “teacher” seat at these events, it’s fair to say I learn just as much from my “students” as they learn from me. Seeing what is happening across different districts and where they find success and where they still struggle challenges me to find better solutions for their challenges. I hope to be able to help more schools deploy Microsoft technology efficiently and quickly to help students and teachers achieve more than ever before.