Using Tablets with Google Apps for Education

Helping a low-tech school reach their potential with tablets for all fourth- and fifth-grade students.

Realizing that their integration of technology into teaching and learning was suboptimal, the Emerson School, a public K-5 charter school in downtown Portland, was interested in finding a partner to help them improve their professional practice as well as get the technology support needed to implement a 1:1 program with tablets in two classrooms. For us, it was a great opportunity to pilot and research Google Apps for Education in a practical real-world setting.

Challenge

The Emerson school had no experience with 1:1 classrooms and needed to determine how the devices could support and enrich their project-based approach. They also needed to address issues of device and student data management, hardware security, storage, and maintenance of the devices and came to Clarity with many questions.

Solution

We designed a classroom 1:1 pilot emphasizing technology integration in pedagogy. Before introducing the devices to the students, we worked closely with the school administrator and two teachers to develop an implementation plan. This pre-implementation phases gave us opportunities to make suggestions for the rollout to students (and parents) as well as share best practices for technology integration, particularly with project-based learning. During implementation, we helped the teachers plan lessons and activities to support and demonstrate student learning, and modeled instructional strategies in the classroom. We also installed, configured, and managed their Google Apps for Education (GAFE) account, allowing us to research and identify best practices for deploying and managing devices, applications.

Outcome

Instead of clipboards and paper, students ventured out to their field studies with tablets, even if they needed to cover them in plastic bags during the Portland rain! With GAFE enabled, we joined the Google Classroom beta and helped teachers organize and assign work. Students used a variety of apps to showcase their learning to the community and demonstrate their knowledge creatively. After the initial pilot concluded in 2016, the school brought in more technology to support teaching and learning across all grades.