Going Digital is as Easy as 1 2 3

In 2013, the Manteca Unified School District utilized existing budget dollars to prioritize projects and reallocate an estimated $30 million dollars towards initial implementation of the District’s initiatives. As Superintendent, I was directed to  take the District digital by the end of the 2014-2015 school year.  In the past 18 months we successfully identified the (1) Tools (2) Resources and (3) Support necessary to meet the School Boards' expectations and provide every teacher (1,200+) with a Surface Pro 2 and every student in grade K-12 (23,500+) with a purpose built computer, Microsoft 8.1 Windows Platform, 2-in-1 tablet.

Making Connections

As well, we have built a robust wireless infrastructure necessary to support more than 25,000 computers accessing our network and the Internet at the same time.  In addition, each of our teachers has received more than 18 hours of Staff Development time and instructional resources as well as classroom management software. In order to successfully take MUSD digital, we established the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee and included both internal and external partners in our planning process.   We used the Microsoft Transformation Framework and the Intel K-12 Blueprint to guide our efforts.

Tools

The selection of the best instructional/learning tool or digital device is extremely important but it should not be what is most critical in determining if you will have a successful digital project.  Remain focused on the most important factor in your going digital initiative.  In my opinion, the most important factor is how teaching and learning will be supported so that students are being prepared for their global future.  In Manteca Unified we are proud to have been able to provide both our teachers and students with the best in industry tools that allow them expansive access to the digital world both inside and outside the classroom.  We look forward to the promise of active digital inking learning environments which will exponentially push cognitive development for all of our students K-12.

Resources

It is not worth spending one penny on a tool if no one can use it!  You must first focus and develop the resources necessary to ensure the digital device selected will be utilized by the teachers and students.  In MUSD this required us increasing our internet access and wireless infrastructure.  We did a ground-up rebuild of our entire digital infrastructure.  More than 50% of our initial $30 million dollar investment was devoted to infrastructure. Our teachers and students have access to the best industry resources including Microsoft Office 365.  For a full list of resources please visit Digital Schools Today. As well staff at the District and site level were added to ensure timely and competent support for our teachers and students.

Support

The primary goal of your going digital initiative should not be focused on the digital devices or tools to implement a 1-to-1 program. It should not be adding more technology into the system as an end goal.  I believe any successful 'going digital' initiative must put the primary focus for success on support.  Teachers need Staff Development prior to students getting devices.  Teachers need on-going Staff Development as you implement the program. Teachers need to see models of what success looks like.  You need to plan for and implement a community outreach program and feedback loop system for all stakeholders, and you need to engage all departments/employees in the district in a manner that communicates that your digital initiative is everyone’s priority and responsibility.

Digital Difference

I do wish that Going Digital was really as easy as 1…2…3… but in reality it has been a long arduous journey in Manteca Unified. We are now realizing that all of our hard work and focus is worth it.  We are hearing success stories on a daily basis from teachers, students and the community. Please visit us at www.mantecausd.net and/or www.digitalschoolstoday.net to learn more about our story. In the upcoming months, watch for further installments from other MUSD staff and community members as we continue to explore our Going Digital Initiative 2015.


Jason Messer has served as superintendent of the Manteca Unified School District, which serves more than 23,000 students, since 2008. He has worked in the education field for more than twenty years, during which time he has taught at all levels of the educational system from preschool through university and served as a dean of students, director of elementary instruction, elementary principal, and assistant superintendent. Mr. Messer is a supporter of quality educational programs including those which focus on preparing all students for their future. He values the impact the District can have on assisting the current community as well as future generations in building green and sustainable systems, institutions, and programs which improve the quality of life for all involved. Manteca Unified School District, under the leadership of Mr. Messer and the School Board will be leading the digital learning frontier by giving every student in the district access to internet connectivity and intertwining digital resources into digital lessons for 21st Century learners, the result of project named “Going Digital 2015.”

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