Perspective from the Field: What can be learned from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) iPad roll out?

Common Core State Standards: 
Writing
Instructional Strategies: 
Prewriting
Neil Schiavo is a Research Associate at Education Development Center, Inc. He has over 10 years experience developing materials to support the professional learning of teachers and administrators around the country. He has been involved in the design of the Success at the Core modules for leadership teams, the National Science Foundation Knowledge Management and Dissemination website, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation Building New Models initiative. His interest is in implementing and sustaining programs that create sensible ways for teachers to collaborate and learn together to strengthen classroom instruction. Much has been written in recent weeks about the challenges faced by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) during the initial phases of their iPad rollout. And while many articles have highlighted the difficulties with how the iPad rollout was handled, a closer examination of what worked, and what didn’t work so well, can be useful for other schools and districts planning their own technology implementation projects. Based on first person accounts from educators in LAUSD, stories in the media, and my own experience with iPad rollouts, what happened in LAUSD is instructive to all of us seeking to implement technology across a district—regardless of its size, small, medium, or large.   It is not unusual for a district, such as LAUSD, to experience hiccups and obstacles during a massive technology implementation project. With so many factors at play, initial rollouts of new technology seldom go smoothly at first. These challenges can be exacerbated by an expectation that a new technology tool will automatically lead to better learning.  It takes more than technology— it takes a team-based approach, in-depth professional development, and high-quality teaching that closely aligns the new technology to learning goals. Successful implementation of technology is an ongoing process that takes time, effort and careful planning to get right. PowerUp works with schools, districts, and teachers across the country to provide resources, tools, and guidance to help the process go more smoothly. Working on PowerUp, we have heard again and again, from schools across the country, that technology will only make a significant impact on student learning when it is artfully integrated into what teachers already do well. The smart integration of technology begins with high-quality instruction, something that most teachers do well.  PowerUp What Works builds on the concept of how to strengthen instruction powered by technology.  Teachers teach, and can use technology to do this- not the other way around.  In PowerUp, you can find a focus on instructional strategies and explicit connections to how technology can support and enhance teaching and learning.  The PowerUp Technology Implementation Practice Guide provides valuable information on the process and steps necessary to ensure that technology is rolled out in a deliberate and effective manner at both the school and classroom level. PowerUp What Works begins with a focus on strategies and content standards that good teachers deploy in their classrooms.  For example, pre-writing is one of ten instructional strategies in ELA profiled on PowerUp What Works.  Strong empirical evidence supports pre-writing as an important skill for young writers and linked to the Common Core State Standards.  Visit the strategy overview to learn more about how to teach pre-writing to students, along with suggestions for integrating technology into these lessons, such as using the graphic organizers on websites like inspiration.com to support students in planning their writing.

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