Tablet PC Schools: Defining Successful Deployment


    A school IT person asked me recently to identify “successful” Tablet PC schools. That’s an intriguing question.

    Mostly, I’ve heard people talk about any use of a Tablet PC in a school as a success. That may have been a sufficient criterion two years ago.

    I wonder:

    While reading case studies and anecdotes, what convinces you that you are reading about a successful deployment of one or more mobile PCs in a school?

    How do you know if a school has successfully deployed mobile PCs for education? What criteria do you consider?

    No standards exist yet to define “successful” deployment.

    However, over 100 schools with uncounted hundreds of teachers and administrators use mobile PCs with thousands of students for probably millions of learning and administrative transactions daily. These numbers appear to continue growing.

    And, 1:1 learning, paperless classrooms, etc. exist as does one Tablet PC per classroom for the teacher to use to augment tangible board and chart illustrated lectures.

    The wireless function of Tablets is arguably an unparalleled tool for both learners and teachers. It allows both to develop new strategies and curricula to increase learning.

    I urged the person to define success in steps.

    My experience is that people below-the-threshold respond to what an administrator inspects, not just what is expected. (Sounds crass. Educators do not like this. But it’s a reasonable beginning working hypothesis to test.)

    I’ve not seen data on the influence of administrators on the successful deployment of mobile PCs in schools, but I’m guessing that the more administrators use Tablets publically, the more teachers will also. (I expect a direct positive correlation.)

    Principals and all other administrators should use theirs in all school meetings.

    They can buy their own mobile PCs the way they buy their own cell phones and handhelds, so students and teachers get publicly supplied tools.

    I’d expect them to carry theirs and use them, so people know mobile PCs can be useful with initiation, thought and effort.

    I’d encourage IT and other school administrators to assist teachers to refocus from assessing instruction to measuring student learning outcomes when defining successful deployment.

    Now that I’m thinking about criteria and outcomes of successful deployment, I think I’ll try to assemble a checklist of mobile PC successes. Sounds like an interesting exercise. I wonder if anyone will consider such a checklist useful?

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    Robert Heiny
    Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in [I]The Encyclopedia of Education [/I](1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for [I]TuxReports[/I].com.


    1. I’d find it useful. Even more useful would be a checklist of criteria to help define the success. I have 200+ tablets deployed right now in the hands of first year med students. Certainly good test scores and increases in student satisfaction could be considered successful, but what else?