March 13, 2017
From the Board Room: Report on computer usage throughout KIBSD
By Noelle H. Lowery
Over the last few years, the Kodiak Island Borough School District has made major investments in classroom technology, including various Apple laptop computers and iPad mobile devices.
Known as “Tier 1 Instructional Devices,” these devices are maintained under the district’s renewal/replacement cycle, as well as some grant money and other smaller funding sources. As such, every teacher in the district receives a MacBook and an iPad for instructional purposes and communication. Additionally, each school maintains MacBook computers and iPads for student use, and there also are several Mac Mini labs in the district.
This information piqued the curiosity of the members of the Board of Education, and they began wondering: How does the district track usage of these technologies? What is the rate of usage for these items? How are they being used in the classroom?
In response to these questions, the KIBSD Technology Services staff took a look at the district’s deployment of its Apple devices and created a “Tier 1 Instructional Devices Report” for BOE members. During the March 7 BOE work session, KIBSD Director of Technology Damon Hargraves presented the report.
Using Jamf software and tools, Hargraves and his staff are able to install software, track hardware specifications and estimate basic device usage. Each time a user logs into an Apple computer, the computer signals the district’s Jamf server, while iPads signal the server each day. Looking at the data, the Tech Services folks found that for current semester through the end of February, some 93 percent of Mac computers and 90 percent of iPads signaled in.
This was both good and bad news, according to Hargraves. While it indicated devices are being used on a regular basis, it also showed that they are not necessarily being used effectively. For example, a cart might have 30 computers in it, but the classroom never has more than 27 students in it. All computers are being utilized over the course of the day, but three of those computers could be moved to a different location to be utilized more effectively.
Still, Hargraves offered one caveat for those devices not signaling in. He warned that this does not necessarily mean the device is not needed for instruction, emphasizing there are many circumstances where computers being offline would be expected, including:
- new computers just coming into the system that are not yet deployed
- old computers exiting the system that are not yet unenrolled in Jamf management
- devices waiting for shipment to rural sites
- Migrant Education devices ready for families to check them out
- AKTeach devices ready for families to check them out
- classroom needs temporarily not requiring devices
Hargraves informed BOE members that even before creating this report Tech Services was working on improving KIBSD’s classroom technology training, implementation and usage. In addition to more and better training opportunities for faculty and staff, Tech Services is focused on “applying the right resource to the right place at the right time,” and has been working with building-level administrators and teachers throughout the 2016-2017 school year on adjusting existing device deployments and implementing new device deployments.
The goal: To outfit buildings with good information on what technology is available in the building so that the best decisions on where devices are needed can be made.
In addition, Tech Services is working on streamlining internal workflows so that devices do not unnecessarily sit idle, such as:
- Making quarterly purchases of devices, rather than large annual purchases, allowing the district to deploy the pool of new devices faster;
- Giving the Tech Services Accountant the duty of selling old devices, which will free up Technicians to focus on device deployment and give them more time to work with schools on implementation;
- Working with building administrators to designate a local point of contact for deployment information; and
- Training building designees to access the asset database, which will give them the best information about what is deployed in their school.
For more information about the “Tier 1 Instructional Devices Report,” visit the KIBSD BOE web page at https://www.kibsd.org/BOE