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Advice: Hardware Selection

Choose hardware last

Overview

Though devices are a crucial part of many blended instructional practices, devices alone will not improve student learning. When purchasing or rolling out a device, consider what types of instructional practices these devices are meant to enable first, then develop a clear idea of key considerations for hardware selection, including process for analysis, cost, student population served, culture fit, support needs, software, and OS.

As Education Elements advises, the biggest takeaway is this: "When selecting the right device for your district, assess key areas such as student population served, implementation challenges, and software availability before making the hardware decision."

Recommendations from the Houston Independent School District

  1. Develop and share the vision across your district to get buy-in. Keep people and processes focused on the end result: expanding learning opportunities for students.
  2. Learn from the experience of districts with successful deployments.
  3. Spend time determining exactly what you want from your technology and make it clear in the RFP. Make sure vendors adapt to your needs (not their wants) and price accordingly.
  4. Allocate sufficient time and be prepared for an iterative process in order to get the best price with the best vendor fit.
  5. Connect the work of every department with efficient communication and create the necessary structures to allow that communication to be easy and frequent.
  6. When working with outside agents such as technology vendors, make sure to have a point of contact that represents a unified interdepartmental voice.
  7. Use a consistent rollout process at schools. Consider a phased rollout where teachers gain early access to devices and training, well before students.
  8. Capture best practices. Continuous improvement starts with collecting information about what works and what doesn't during first waves of implementation to develop future rollouts.
  9. Meet your teachers and students where they are. Find the school leaders and students who are ready for blended learning and be patient for the rest to come on board. The Houston Independent School District estimates five years for a complete cultural overhaul.