How a 1 to 1 district program streamlined the switch to online learning during COVID-19

Students at Glastonbury Public Schools, a previous Districts of Distinction honoree, are using district iPads to complete assignments from home
By: | April 22, 2020
Distance learning at Glastonbury Public Schools is possible because of a 1 to 1 school iPad program that allows kids to bring their school iPads home with them during school closures.A student from Glastonbury Public Schools in Connecticut.

Every student at Glastonbury Public Schools, a 1 to 1 school district, has been completing coursework using school iPads since March 16 after Connecticut’s governor announced the statewide closures of schools on March 13.

The Connecticut district could adopt distance learning quickly and seamlessly because of an earlier iPad program that District Administration’s Districts of Distinction program honored in 2016.

Before COVID-19, students in grades 7 through 12 already took their school iPads home with them while K-6 students stored their devices in charging carts when not in use.

“We had been planning all along to launch the next phase of our iPad education program where students in grades 4 through 6 could begin taking home their devices, but we accelerated that timeline and sent these devices home with everyone because of the coronavirus situation,” says Cheri Burke, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

Survey: iPad program effectiveness during school closures

Glastonbury Public Schools received student and parent feedback from a March 30 survey about the district’s distance learning program:

Online learning overall is excellent or good
Parents: 80%
Students: 74%

Amount of work assigned is just right
Parens: 70%
Students: 60%

Amount of work assigned is too much
Parents: 14%
Students: 40%

Quality of instruction via e-Learning is excellent or good
Parents: 83%
Students: 83%

The amount of communication from superintendent, principals and teachers is just right
Parents: 80-94%
Students: 80-94%

Becoming a fully 1 to 1 school district

When school closures became imminent, Glastonbury quickly expanded its 1 to 1 school initiative by allowing K-6 students to take home their school iPads.

“The iPads that K-6 students could now bring home didn’t need any new installations because we had already been using a cloud-based web filter on all school iPads, so it doesn’t matter if the device is at school, home, or Starbucks. The content will still get filtered,” says Chris Macca, director of information technology. Administrators had also already approved or denied content that students could access on these iPads.

Parents of K-6 students were reminded of and told where to find their preexisting school iPad responsible use agreement that applies to home use as well as school use. Meanwhile, a team of IT officials, tech coaches and community specialists created a document on how to log in to accounts, access school emails and use different Google apps that was uploaded to the district e-learning page.

Professional learning during school closures

Before the coronavirus, the iPad program initiative incorporated professional learning based on voice and choice where district leaders taught sessions, ranging from Google Basics to iBook development.

When schools were closed statewide, administrators created video tutorials and documents on how to use certain programs based on teacher surveys. Educators who want additional professional learning opportunities are matched with so-called lead teachers who collaborate on the Google Meet platform.

“iPad education has become a fabric of our teaching and learning model,” says Macca. “Since switching to distance learning, we are observing that teachers and students are getting more comfortable with these devices with each day.”

For more coronavirus coverage, click here.

To learn more about Districts of Distinction, click here.

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