Friday, September 30, 2016

So, You've Lost Access to iMessage: The Responsibility to Speak Up!

Two apps that many students across our district have consistently used responsibly for communicating with friends, classmates, parents, and even distant relatives, have been blocked across our system: iMessage and FaceTime.

It leaves some students and parents asking a fair question: Why?

The simple answer is easy: 
Many of our students did NOT make wise decisions when using these apps.

The more important answer, though, is a larger life lesson.

Understanding the Decision to Remove Apps

When putting these tools into our student's hands, it is accompanied by an iPad Pledge agreement that each student signs. In that agreement students give their word to follow the rules outlined for appropriate use of the iPads.

Statement #3 on that pledge reads:
I will follow my teacher, or principal’s judgment as to appropriateness of an application, and understand they may ask me to discontinue use of an application that is not appropriate.

While FaceTime and iMessage have been removed from the iPads of individual students who have been distracted by these apps all along, the distraction from learning and general misuse related to the use of these apps at school has grown to the point that something larger had to be done. The decision to remove these apps was a collective decision encourage by educators and administrators across our system.

It is easy to be angry with SDW staff for removing the apps, but remember that the primary responsibility of teachers and administrators is to keep students focused on learning. It is no fault of these people that the privilege was abused by a growing number of students.

The Life Lesson

These apps, a privilege for all and a benefit to many, were removed from all student devices. Even if most students made the right choices with these apps, the growing problem caused all students to lose the privilege.

And that is a fairly consistent lesson to be learned about life. The inappropriate actions of the few can sometimes lead to unfair consequences for all. There are so many examples to point out.

Perhaps the company you work at has a loose policy on start times, but an increasing number of employees begin to abuse this privilege and show up later each day. What do you think will happen?

Perhaps a small, local charity offers their resources to as many as they can help, but an increasing number of people not in true need begin to take advantage of the resources, leaving those truly in need without the resources necessary? What do you think will happen?

Perhaps a community park is open to all, trusting that those using it will help maintain the park. When a few people stop cleaning up after themselves, stop taking ownership of the park, start vandalizing the park, what do you think will happen?

The list of examples is wide and real. It is the cause of frustration for many of us, young people and adults alike.

Take Action

There is always something we can do, though.

  • We can identify the privileges we are given. 
  • We can speak up when people take advantage of those privileges.

Take this small example of losing iMessage and FaceTime on student iPads.  

Did you ever use these apps inappropriately yourself? Did you ever remind a friend or a classmate that using iMessage inappropriately during school was not acceptable?  Did you ever support an adult or another classmate who was trying to send this message? 

The answer may be that you never had opportunities to speak up to encourage somebody to do the right thing. But then again, maybe that opportunity was there. Did you seize it?

Speaking up is not always easy, and it may not always be welcomed feedback. However, when we do own the responsibility to speak up, we remind others that the privileges we have are worth appreciating.

Revising the App Selection Process in Waukesha

One of the first lessons we learn about technology is that change is inevitable.

At the onset of Waukesha One (four years ago), we rolled out an app selection process that provided everybody with a stable, reliable, versatile set of apps called Core Apps. Layered atop core apps, parents, students, and teachers self-selected apps from the app store that would be beneficial to their specific situations.  Without question, this was a popular and successful method for introducing apps into our educational systems. 

As a system, we are at a point where we need to re-visit and revise our app selection and distribution process. We are learning from our teachers and students which apps are most ideal for the work staff and students do daily. We also have more tools available today that can make delivery of these apps more efficient and provide better service to all of you.

Apps and App Store Remain Available

To be clear, the App Store will continue to be accessible on SDW provided iPads. Apps purchased by students, teachers, and families will not be erased or removed. If an individual wishes to put an app from the app store on the iPad with their own regular Apple ID, they will still be able to do so.

Significant Apple ID Changes for Students

Apple's approved program and process for creating Apple IDs has shifted twice since our first rollout a few years ago. We now have a method for generating Managed Apple IDs that have the sole ability to back up content from the iPad. They cannot purchase apps from the app store.  These will be the SDW district-approved Apple IDs moving forward. It will take some time for these changes to be fully realized in a system our size. 

Previously we encouraged students and families to create their own Apple ID or an Under 13 Apple ID.  We will no longer encourage students or families to do this. We will now provide students an alternate method for accessing approved apps that does not require an Apple ID.

App Distribution to Students via Self Service

The Core Apps are not going anywhere. These apps are available district-wide, are widely used, and have been instrumental supports for many instructional transformations across the district.

Moving forward, instructors will be able to suggest apps they feel should be added to Self Service that will be available to students across their building, at their grade level, and eventually even for specific groups of students.  After the app has gone through a thorough vetting process, approved apps will be available to the identified students via Self Service without need for an Apple ID.

Vetting Apps for Use with Students

Just as teachers have always done, it remains the primary responsibility of the teacher to check out the quality and safety of the app before submitting it for approval.  There is a helpful guide that can get you started as you explore an app that you would like to see students use in your classroom.

Additionally, we ask that teachers of similar grade levels or subjects within a building come to a consensus on which apps will be available to students. For instance, teachers at each building in Kindergarten and 1st Grade across our elementary schools started this process by calling meetings, discussing which apps would be on their approved list, and then submitting these apps for approval. We ask that you work with your colleagues to do the same before submitting an app request.

Approval of Apps

App requests must be entered into the SDW Self Service App Request Form available here:

Apps will be reviewed for key elements that include instructional value, terms of use, student privacy and data collection. This process may take some time depending on the volume of requests. Allow sufficient time for review, approval, and distribution of the app in Self Service. Not all apps will be approved.  All submissions for a Self Service App Request will receive email notification of the determination made.

Using the Apps

Once an app has been approved, students should visit Self Service to download the app. No Apple ID is required. Teachers may need to download the apps from the App Store with the professional Apple ID created when you received your district Mac and iPad. 

As students move through the system, these apps will come and go from their iPads automatically (within a reasonable amount of time). As  a student moves from one building to another, or to a new grade level (as indicated in Infinite Campus), new apps will become available to the student in Self Service while some previously assigned apps may leave the student's iPad.

Supporting Our Instructional Goals

While any new process can shift how we do something we were previously comfortable with, we believe this new process is going to be a positive change that will continually support the instructional goals across our system.
As always, your Instructional technology team is willing and ready to help you navigate through technology to find what best suites your instructional outcomes. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Waukesha One SAIL Team: Working Theory of Action

This week the Waukesha One SAIL Team re-convened to discuss the state of Waukesha One within our district. Just as every other "big rock" in Waukesha has utilized the SAIL process to refine and solidify a vision moving forward, the Waukesha One team is working to do the same.

The team now has a working Theory of Action for Waukesha One and we would like to share it with the community. We encourage you to review and reflect upon how the Waukesha One Theory of Action impacts you, your students, and your school. Please feel free to offer your comments and suggestions as well. The team will continually use your feedback to improve the vision of Waukesha One.

Waukesha One Theory of Action

IF  each school identifies what technology can be infused in their high leverage practices based upon clearly identified model uses of the technology
IF  we have a vehicle to promote communication about our Waukesha One purpose and outcomes to individuals who can effectively interact with that information
IF instructional leaders have a foundational knowledge of the SAMR Framework and how it impacts instructional practices
THEN SAMR will become a part of coaching and feedback to teachers, become an intentional part of the instructional planning process, and provide a better understanding of the program vision/goals
IF we create a community that encourages dialogue where all parties can contribute information about the program
THEN all participants will benefit by having access to the most current information/ideas while better understanding the Waukesha One key tenets
IF we focus on promoting the benefits of employing the available tools
THEN we will shift understanding to value the contribution technology can provide
IF school-level, high-leverage practices are clearly identified and communicated
THEN technology can be infused to support and enhance instructional practices
IF model technology classroom look-fors are identified, modeled, and practiced
THEN instructional leaders can provide vision, feedback and coaching to further build practice
THEN we will encourage greater understanding among the stakeholders, and adoption of impactful high-leverage practices in classrooms that impact student engagement and achievement.

General Summary

In our SAIL team conversation, there were generally a few summarizing points that the team felt wrapped up the beliefs stated above.
  • Communication around Waukesha One needs to continually improve. Waukesha One is rooted in providing students and staff access to tools that will help them be more efficient and more successful in the efforts of teaching and learning. Focusing on improving communication will allow us avoid distractions from those goals, hone in on best practices to achieve those goals, and maintain our focus on the primary reasons we have "hired" these tools to support our work.
  • Clarifying for all stakeholders how technology can support teaching and learning must be a primary focus for Waukesha One. Key steps to achieve this are:
    •  developing a common, district-wide language for discussing how technology is utilized for teaching/learning (SAMR),
    • linking the instructional high leverage practices an educator utilizes with the tools that will allow them to be more efficient or will allow students to engage more deeply is critical, and
    • creating functioning classroom models within our system of best instructional practices that infuse technology will offer educators a functional vision of what is possible through the integration of technology.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Creating Class Rosters for Use with Casper Focus or Apple Classroom

Classroom management in a technology rich classroom continues to be a commonly asked question within our district. And rightfully so... there are a lot of changes in our learning environments as iPads are introduced.

While our traditional golden rules for classroom management (the tried-and-true ones that we used to successfully manage classrooms before the introduction of technology) are still critical in our learning environments, there are additional tools that can help teachers to take control of the technology in students' hands.

Last year teachers heavily relied on Casper Focus for this purpose.  This year, Apple Classroom steps in as another classroom management option. Apple Classroom has many of the features of Casper Focus, but it also allows teachers to take a "screen" view of their students while they are at school. This means you can get snapshots of what the students are doing on their screen right on your iPad, without looking over their shoulder.

The beauty is, once you've built your Casper Focus class rosters, you can use both tools! That means you can select the right tool to suit your needs and style.

(As of early September 2016, Apple Classroom is still in an early experimental stage within our district.)

Below are the first steps to getting started with using EITHER of these tools!

Further tutorials for use of Apple Classroom will be coming soon! 

If you are not already subscribed, a great place to be informed when our tutorials are posted is to subscribe to our YouTube channel (click the red "Subscribe" button when you land there).

Casper Focus Course Builder: 

Building a Class List for Classes Scheduled in Infinite Campus

Starting with the 2016/17 school year, if you are building a Casper Focus class list to use with Casper Focus, and if that list is made up of students already scheduled as a rostered class in Infinite Campus, you can use the SDW Intranet Casper Focus tool to automatically create class lists for you. The video below will demonstrate how to use this tool:

Building a Customized Casper Focus List

If you are building a customized Casper Focus class list to use with Casper Focus, but the students are not scheduled in a course in Infinite Campus already, you'll need to log in to Casper (click the name to get to the Casper link) with the following login credentials:

If you are not aware of the password to log in, it is available here. (This is a password protected site for SDW staff.)

This video tutorial will demonstrate how to create customized lists from there:

Editing Your Class List for Casper Focus

Once you have created your class list for use with Casper Focus (or Apple Classroom) you will likely need to change the roster from time-to-time (students leaving class, new students joining class, etc.).  This must be done manually in the Casper interface. The video below demonstrates how to  edit class rosters or add teachers to the roster.

Again, if you are not aware of the password to log in, it is available here. (This is a password protected site for SDW staff.)