Since we started with our planned obsolescence strategy a couple of years ago in Omaha Public Schools, we have been looking for ways to provide digital equity and access. This was outlined in our strategic plan and resonates across our learning environment now and in the future. Over the past couple of years, through budget cuts, we have tried to find alternative ways to assist in our device deployments. This past year, we came close to deploying 18,000 devices to students across our secondary schools. Through that process, we stumbled upon the Verizon Innovative Learning Initiative, through Digital Promise. This initiative provides devices and internet access through Verizon's LTE data network that targets the digital equity and access pieces by delivering access anywhere, anytime.
The VILs Initiative is unique in that it supplies professional development, planning assistance, as well as resources and funding to provide an instructional technology trainer coupled with an iPad 1:1 for students and staff. In our first planning year, I can see that it is the most intentional, comprehensive initiative I have ever been a part of with a corporate grant/partnership.
Both Norris Middle School and Marrs Magnet Middle School were selected to cohort 5 of the VILs Initiative. Through these cohorts, you have a community of veteran schools and new schools chosen from across the nation that contributes to the success rate of these implementations. Below is a photo of our implementation meeting held in Dallas with Digital Promise and the cohort schools.
Throughout this initiative, I have thought what the student experience would be. In discussion with the school leadership, we thought it would be great to experience a week through the lens of the student experience. This past week we started with a challenge to utilize the iPad as our primary device. Each day we would reflect using Flipgrid to document the journey. Below is the flipgrid with the video reflections.
Our iPad Challenge
I think I learned through that journey that as leaders to bring some empathy and understanding to the student experience, we sometimes need to experience the same environment. It is great to model and provide solutions and ideas so that staff and students feel supported. This week was challenging but an inspiring experience at the same time. I know we will have some fantastic nuggets of excellence coming from both Norris and Marrs as they learn from great practitioners and deliver devices for high technology learners.
These posts are personal. They are not reflective of the Omaha Public Schools District.