After approximately 12 months of discussion about the Transformational Technology Project, including 12 presentations to the Northfield Board of Education, five public meetings, 25 blog posts on the project blog with 1,620 page views as of Jan. 21 and a total of 37 articles on the subject published in various mediums; there has been a final proposal.

“We’ve been talking, discussing, analyzing and cajoling — and all sorts of those adjectives — about this project for about 12 months,” said Matt Hillmann, Northfield Public Schools director of human resources and technology.

Hillmann presented the final recommendations from the technology task forces for the Transformational Technology Project to the board on Monday night saying that the shift to include iPads in classroom instruction is one of the biggest pedagogical shifts in 100 years. The board will consider the proposal and community comment — gathered at the two scheduled community meetings on the subject — and vote to either approve or deny the proposal.

Who would get iPads and when?

The proposal suggests a true 1:1 iPad initiative for students at the Northfield Middle School, High School and Area Learning Center. The students will be given their own iPad2 to use and will be allowed to take the device home.

For the district elementary schools, the proposal suggests a “pod-based” approach, which would afford each classroom four to six iPad minis. The exact number of iPad minis assigned to each room would be based on a ratio of one iPad mini for every 3.5 students. Elementary students would not be allowed to take the devices home, according to the proposal.

What would it cost?

The iPads would be obtained on a three-year lease, allowing for device upgrades at the end of the lease if applicable. The proposal suggests authorizing the lease of 2,700 devices for the 2013-14 school year.

Hillmann reminded the board that he has never claimed this project would be cheap.

“This is not cheap and we never said it would be.” he said. “We do think it has the opportunity to be cheaper long-term though.”

The lease would cost $336,954 per year for three years for the devices. The proposal also anticipates budgeting $12 for apps per device at the district level, which would be apps for content creation. Other costs involved are:

• $14.99 per digital textbook for an average of three digital textbooks for secondary students

• Funding for a mobile device management system — coming in at about $4 per student per year — which would allow the district to monitor and manage devices

• Funding for a learning management system — coming in at about $8 per student per year — which allows teachers to collect homework, facilitate online discussion and post content; and $60 per device for a case.

The total proposed annual cost, combining the lease and other mentioned costs, is projected to be no more than $550,000 per year for the next three years.

At the secondary level, insurance will cost families $25 per device with a cap of $100 per family. For students eligible for reduced price lunch, insurance would cost $20 per device. For students eligible for free lunch, insurance would cost $15 per device. If a student could not afford the insurance fee, Hillmann says there would be a way to insure the device through some sort of scholarship fund, though those plans aren’t ironed out yet.

Following Hillmann’s presentation, Northfield School Superintendent Chris Richardson spoke about the budget.

“I think after first three years [of iPad implementation] you’ll cross over to where the cost will be neutral as opposed to what it has been with paper [textbook, copies, etc.]” he said.

How would the change be implemented?

The proposal suggests holding several sessions in August where students and parents would be required to attend. At the sessions devices would be handed out, fees would be collected and training would be provided for students and parents/guardians.

Professional development for teachers will continue to be a critical component. The tech boot camp would be modified to run on Tuesdays, according to the proposal, to ensure that teachers would be able to attend sessions.

The SAMR Model, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, will be used as a method for integrating the new devices into Northfield classrooms. Hillmann said that the idea would be to take on one stage of the SAMR Model (Simulation, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition) each year for four years.

“I will assure you probably by Oct. 15 there will be a ton of teachers doing all four of these stages in one class period,” said Hillmann. “We know many will implement these changes faster, we believe [the timeline] strikes a balance that we set up so people know how to plan for it while still allowing for the flexibility for people to develop at their own pace.”

Reach reporter Ashley Klemer at 645-1115 or follow her on Twitter.com @AshleyKlemer.

Reach reporter Ashley Klemer at 645-1115 or follow her on Twitter.com @AshleyKlemer. 

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