One District’s Search for the Next-Gen Device - Part III

Our device evaluation is progressing and administrators, teachers and students are helping in the trial period to try various productivity tools that were developed by the committee. Teachers and students articulated the tools they needed most to personalize teaching and learning.  Our stakeholders collaboratively developed a rubric and when they complete the evaluation period, they are asked to complete the rubric and continue to the next device. It is an exciting time to be evaluating devices with all of the choices such as tablets, tablet and laptop convertibles,  the Stream and Chromebooks. I will keep you posted on the trials and the outcome.  Other considerations while continuing on your path to one to one:

Network access and storage:

For the last 10 years, we have been a Microsoft network with Microsoft Office on the desktop, and an Microsoft operating system. Our users have come to depend on their access to the network anytime anywhere in a secure environment. Our students and teachers have come to depend on the seamless access to the network through Microsoft Servicer Direct Access which allows connectivity to our network resources, without the need for the traditional virtual private network (VPN) connections, which allows for file sharing between teachers and students , access and submission of assessments. 

Schools need to explore whether they want to keep everything on their network, or a private cloud such as Microsoft OneDrive or GoogleDrive.

They also need to think about which productivity suite will best prepare students for college and careers. 

The main choices are Microsoft Office locally installed, Microsoft Office365 and Google Apps for Education(GAFE)

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based productivity suite that provides robust security, reliability, and user productivity.  Office 365 allows users to work in a full office suite that is loaded locally or in the cloud and syncs seamlessly to the cloud when a user is offline working locally. Office 365 is the same office that is loaded locally but adds the collaboration tools in all of its applications. One Note and Excel are especially impressive with the functionality that is not seen in competitor products. Users also have to ability to share certain files, collaborate with others and maintain privacy of others.   

GAFE- Google Applications for Education

Google Apps for Education touts the easy set up and the ability to see real time changes in a collaboration document. The applications in the suite are solid productivity tools but not as fully functional as Office365, more specifically, Sheets vs. Excel.

Both productivity suites are free, easy to administer, and offer quality teacher trainings on-demand online options and hands-on locally. In addition both cloud-based options are accessible on all devices.

How is your device and productivity suite evaluation going? Please share your stories with our readers.

My next posting will include our quest to find the best wireless display Wireless Display Receiver for our teaching stations.

Marianthe Williams has been a district level administrator supporting teaching and learning with technology and professional learning for the past 15 years. Most recently, she has supported the River Dell Regional School District in the implementation of their one-to-one computing initiative which is about to enter its ninth year at the high school. In addition, she supports technology infusion into the middle school’s learner-centered environment. Williams created an elite team of technology turnkey teacher trainers within each discipline who provide ongoing, personalized options through face- to-face, on-demand and flipped professional learning opportunities to their colleagues. She is active in several state and local technology director associations and she currently serves on the technology committee for the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.

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