The Northfield District is seeking additional public input on the Transformational Technology Proposal (see below) that’s been developed in the past year. It’s tentatively scheduled for consideration by the Northfield School Board in mid-February, 2013.

Two more face-to-face public meetings have been scheduled to review the proposal with the community:

  • Saturday, February 2nd from 10 am – 12 pm
  • Monday, February 4th from 7 pm – 9 pm.

Both meetings will be held in the Northfield High School Auditorium.

In addition, we’re planning to use a variety of online engagement tools over next couple of weeks to get input from those who’ve not attended the face-to-face meetings. Stay tuned to the blog for announcements.

Transformational Technology Proposal
Matt Hillmann, Director of Administrative Services

Transformational Technology Proposal, Jan. 21, 2013 Matt Hillmann, Director of Administrative Services
(See the complete 6-page PDF of the Transformational Technology Proposal, dated Jan. 21, 2013. Below are excerpts.)

Since January of 2012, the Northfield Public Schools has engaged a variety of stakeholders in discussions envisioning a future that includes tablet computers for students; transitioning from a resource set that relies on paper-based tools such as handouts and textbooks, to a modernized, more flexible resource set that relies heavily on digital tools provided to students and delivered via a tablet computer.

A proposal has been formed based on input from key stakeholders, including task forces, a faculty survey, discussion with our District Technology Steering Committee, and discussion with the Superintendent’s Cabinet. This proposal requests the Board of Education consider authorizing the lease of 2,700 student devices for a three-year period beginning with the 2013-14 school year.

The lease would include:

  • A 1:1 initiative using the iPad 2 at Northfield Middle School, Northfield High School, and the Northfield Area Learning Center. Each student would be assigned an iPad 2 for school use. The District would encourage students to take the devices home with them. A plan to include three percent more devices than students will allow for a “rapid response” strategy to ensure students have access to a working device if their iPad becomes inoperable. The District would initiate an annual $25 per student insurance fee ($20 for those eligible for reduced lunch, $15 for those eligible for free lunch) with a family cap of $100 per year.
  • A “pod based” approach of approximately 140-162 iPad Mini devices each at Bridgewater, Greenvale Park, and Sibley Elementary schools. This approach would provide four-to-six devices per classroom based on one device per 3.5 students. No student insurance fee would exist at the elementary schools since devices will not be brought home.
  • Budget for $12 of apps per device at the District level. These apps would be focused on content creation and not be subject-specific. Subject-specific apps may be purchased by classroom teachers through their own classroom budgets, by application through the District curriculum budget, or by application through their building level budget.
  • Funding for an average of three digital textbooks for secondary students at $14.99 per book per year. Digital textbooks will not immediately replace traditional, paper-based textbooks. This allocation will allow us to address the move to digital resources in an orderly and planned fashion.
  • Funding for a mobile device management system ($4 per student per year) that will allow the District to monitor and manage the iPads from a central location. It will also allow the District to manage the privileges students have to use the device. This could be used to allow certain groups (such as High School students) to have a greater amount of flexibility to manage their own device and install their own apps. A student who misuses the device could be restricted to school-based apps for a period of time. It would also allow the District to apply our web content filtering standards anywhere the student has the device, not just within the school walls.
  • Funding for a learning management system ($8 per student) that will allow teachers to post digital content, facilitate online discussions, assess their students using a variety of tools, as well as collect homework and other documents using an online submission folder.
  • Funding for a $60 case per device. The District has not selected a targeted case yet as new options are routinely coming forward. We believe that $60 will allow for the purchase of a sturdy case that will protect the devices.
  • Our total anticipated annual cost, combining the lease and other costs, is projected to be no more than $550,000 per year for the next three years, inclusive of an approximate 8% contingency. The case and the iPad are included as part of the lease. Other costs, such as the cost of apps, textbooks, the mobile device management system, and the content management system are not part of the lease but will be budgeted for on an annual basis as part of the $550,000 budgeted amount.

If the proposal is approved, District staff will immediately begin preparing for implementation. Our vision for students at the secondary level receiving their devices includes:

  • Hosting several sessions in August where parents/guardians and students would be required to attend in order to pick up their device. Fees would be collected, iPads distributed, and training provided for both the student and their parent/guardian. Review of District policies governing the use of the device will also be presented.
  • Parents/guardians who cannot attend one of the sessions will be accommodated to the best of the District’s ability on a case-by-case basis.

The District has worked over the last year to discuss the best ways that modern technology can support teaching and learning in ways that could not be done without it. Our belief is that this planful approach, using a fair market value lease strategy, that does not lock the District into one vendor for the long-term is a responsible strategy. A comprehensive plan for professional development for teachers and a reasonable set of instructional expectations will significantly move Northfield Public Schools toward modernizing our educational system and preparing our students for their future in the 21st  century economy.