Teleconference with Sarasota County Schools

  • The District Technology Committee is committed to researching every aspect of the 1:1 Initiative.  We were lucky enough to speak with Adam Gardner the Instructional Technology Specialist for Sarasota County on December 12, 2015.  We contacted Sarasota Schools with the intention of asking a few questions and one thing led to another . . . after one hour, this is what we found out.
    Sarasota County Schools  

    Notes from a Conference call with Adam Gardner from Sarasota County Schools
     Tuesday, December 9, 2015





    • Devices are distributed from Grade 2 - Tech HS
    • 600-700 devices  were deployed - Surface 3 with a 64GB Solid State Drive Celeron processor  
    • 100 Surface Pro 3s for Administrator use - 128GB Solid State Drive with an i5 processor
    • Student devices are not used for hardware intensive applications
    • The middle school is not a true 1:1 as devices stay in school in carts (except at The Polytech HS which is 1:1 take home
    • The Surface 3 battery was not lasting the day…recharging devices during lunchtime (getting about 5 hours of continuous use - most likely due to incorrect settings)
    • The district did not purchase an extended warranty. In hindsight they should have looked into the extended warranty, as well as purchased more devices for replacements, purchased some accessories, covers, pen tips (free) as the younger kids pull the pen tips out.  Devices have been dropped (mostly at younger grades due to smaller desk size), with only some breakage
    • Digital inking has been the main feature.  They find that they are using much less paper due to the digital inking 
    • They realize that caching student credentials was important for speed, but this was more of a problem for them since it wasn't a true 1:1 and they had multiple students using the device throughout the day
    • Teachers use Wi-Di to project on screens. It has worked well for the shy kids who start the first quarter by displaying what's on their laptop while they're sitting down, then in second quarter they progressed to standing at their seat, and in quarter three they are at the front of the room




    • Math classes are done using OneNote essentially because of the digital pen
    • Science labs are also using OneNote  
    • The district uses Blackboard as the LMS (Learning Management System)
    • Teachers are offered PD courses on OneNote. OneNote is becoming a big part of their teaching - VERY positive about it.
    • Weekend PD sessions are held for teachers as well
    • Didn’t purchase any Professional Development with Microsoft, should have
    • Blackboard and Office365 are the dominate applications in the district 
    • Students do not have administrative privileges to install applications 
    • Total use of digital textbooks and OneNote, which has made students' bags much lighter and has diminished the use of paper



    Professional Development

    • Some teachers are having problems with learning Windows 8; for students this is not an issue. Teachers needed more assistance
    • Teachers and students haven’t found any limitations to using the Surface
    • Instruction and Curriculum coordinator was blown away when he walked into the trailblazer classes, mostly due to the digital inking  
    • There is a need to do Professional Development on how to manage kids and technology in a classroom



    Questions and Comments

    • Have the teachers stopped using their installed interactive panel displays (IWB)?  The trailblazer classes aren’t using the IWBs because the students have their own device in front of them. Students have been able to show their screen to the class  as well using the Wi-Di
    • What has been parental reaction?  Parents have seen the devices as a benefit because it greatly reduces the backpack load. There have been no parent complaints of students spending too much screen time with the device at home 
    • Are there any other districts near Sarasota that are using the Surface?  Ocala is interested but other than that, none that he Adam knows of.
    • What would he do differently?  If just want media consumption use an iPad or Android tablet, but for productivity the Surface is perfect because of MS Office and OneNote and OneDrive
    • How are they used with K-2?  A Science teacher (on a cart) has a USB microscope hooked up to the Surface and can take it to the garden and use the microscope in the garden with amazing results
    • How do you keep the devices from being a distraction? Classroom management, turning off specific students’ computer and standing behind the students 
    • Have you seen outcome gains from the trailblazer teachers? No, the district hasn't looked at that yet   
    • Adam said the Surface 3 does what iPad and Chromebooks can't do for them. "Digital inking was a game-changer" for Sarasota County schools
    • Pam Chirls, LBOE President, asked to explain what a trailblazer classroom looks like:
    1. It looks chaotic and not what a traditional class looks like to an untrained eye of someone that is not an educator.  Using built-in camera, discussion boards, and recorded flipped lessons on a daily basis
    2. Collaboration among the trailblazing teachers at schools that are widely dispersed throughout the county, some are up to one hour away, however, collaboration is very heavy


    Committee Discussion 

    • Tom Douglas - "We'll be using Windows 10 which utilizes the battery better, which will be installed on the Surface 3 and Surface 4.  Teachers will need access to software/apps for the computers, so money will need to exist to purchase these."
    • Ernie Palestis  - “Teachers will start to see that print materials will no longer be needed."
    • Elaine Titunick - “LPS has a textbook database - we could do the same with an app database/library.”
    • Monica Cohen - “We can take advantage of Self-Serve software in order for teachers and students to be able to download apps/software from a district repository to lessen the burden of pushing out software.“

    John Leister suggested that we all watch this video about Sarasota schools and Surface: