Evaluating Innovation

by Aaron Hovel and Jennifer Zacharis
Originally posted on Pike Perspectives

With any new initiative, it is important to evaluate and reflect on the progress. Over the past year, we embarked on evaluating the Upper School 1-to-1 iPad program that began during the 2013 – 2014 school year. We accomplished this through student, parent, and teacher surveys, as well as faculty focus groups.  After compiling all the data and pouring over the individual comments, it is clear that the program has been well received and is meeting the goals set out in the beginning.  As I stated in my previous post the workforce that our children will enter will require different skills and qualities, and we need to teach students to do work that computers can’t do.  The goals for the iPad program were developed to provide teachers and students with the tools to create opportunities to practice these skills, which we often refer to as the 4 C’s:

  • Curation – Develop skills that will help evaluate and organize vast amounts of information so they can retrieve it later.
  • Creation – Design and share information for global communities.
  • Collaboration – Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally.
  • Communication – Facilitate creative expression of knowledge and understanding through a variety of media.

When we asked teachers, via the survey, if they felt the iPad had enabled them to provide more opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate these skills, the majority of faculty reported yes.  Overall, we also found that parents are satisfied with the iPad program, value integration of technology into the classroom, and are looking for information to help them talk with their children about digital citizenship.  Students overwhelmingly rate the iPad program highly, they like the major apps that we use daily and a majority of them feel more engaged in class as a result of the iPad program.  Along with all of the positive news, we also know we have things to work on and we will use the results of the survey to guide our plans for the future, with issues like distraction, screen time and digital citizenship.
Now that we have all of this data, how is it guiding our future work? In addition to providing input via the surveys, faculty also participated in 2 departmental focus groups.  During the first meeting, they did an analysis on the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the first three years of the program.  In the next meeting, faculty reviewed the results of the survey as well as their initial analysis and picked a major goal to work on over the next 2-3 years.

As we often see at Pike, teachers choose to take on big goals that can improve learning in major ways.  Some of the goals include making Global connections with other classrooms around the world, developing a portfolio of work that will help students evaluate and reflect on their learning, or looking for more ways for students to create as a part of their learning.  I’m excited about the direction already set for the next few years. Thank you to all who participated in the surveys and provided feedback.

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