Friday, June 17, 2016

Measuring a 1:1 iPad Program

One of the hardest things to do in life is SLOW DOWN...just enough to think, look back, and gain perspective. This is no different with school initiatives; often times we (meaning those in education) are excited to implement a new idea, equipment, or philosophy, but forget to stop and look at how that implementation is doing.

In his book, How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business, Douglas Hubbard makes it clear that measurement is not about ridding of all uncertainty, but that it is a "reduction of uncertainty based on one or more observations" (p. 30). In regards to a 1:1 iPad program in a school, how can you measure it's success? What does an "effective" 1:1 iPad program really look like and how do you know teachers are using iPads in the classroom "effectively?"

It can be difficult to put quantitative values on the success of a 1:1 iPad program; it is not appropriate to measure student scores in correlation with iPad use in the classroom, which could be the failure of several ICT integrations around the world. There are too many uncontrolled variables in that type of measurement. I began asking myself some of the following questions:
  • What does successful integration mean? Or look like?
  • How do you assess teacher use of the iPad?
  • How do I know this is working?
  • What is the merit and worth of this influence on learning?
  • What is the cost/benefit of iPads?
  • What impact does the iPad make on students' learning?
  • What impact do we hope for if the implementation is going well? 
Overwhelming! After learning that we haven't really evaluated our technology implementations, I began to gain clarity while using the following six questions Hubbard poses in his book (p. 176):
  1. What are the parts of the thing we're uncertain about?
  2. How has this (or its decomposed parts) been measured by others?
  3. How do the "observables" identified lend themselves to measurement?
  4. How much do we really need to measure it?
  5. What are the sources of error?
  6. What instrument do we select?
Ultimately, what am I most uncertain about with the 1:1 iPad program? I think it is important to start out as basic as possible, because often times wisdom can be gleaned off simplest information. To understand our place in a 1:1 iPad program that has not been measured before, begin with getting to know your staff: what are their proficiencies in technology, their attitudes, and motivations? What have they done in the classroom with the devices that has been a transformation for him or her?

Below, I propose a way to measure the early years of a 1:1 iPad implementation. Within the presentation you will see sample questions from a proficiency and attitudes survey that could be taken by the entire staff, as well as focus group questions that could be addressed to smaller groups of teachers to understand exactly where your staff is at, in order to provide differentiated professional development.

Starting simple will ensure that all staff members from the spectrum of technology adoption are accounted for. Starting somewhere gives the next steps on the journey of iPads changing pedagogy and learning environments. 

  • Hubbard, D. W. (2014). How to measure anything: Finding the value of "intangibles" in business. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

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