Loaning iPads, building trust
Posted on 11/13/2019
graphic of a student holding an iPad walking up the stairs towards an illuminated window; words read Loaning iPads, building trust

Despite the availability of technology these days, some students don’t have devices at home to use for online coursework, which can impede academic progress. The team at Independence Nontraditional School saw this need and worked to find a solution. Rather than get rid of older iPads, Robin Dalusung, technology support specialist; Shannon Frazier, school social worker; and Peggi Knight, instructional technology coach, collaborated to develop a program where students can check out refurbished iPads to use at home for internet access. Dalusung spearheaded the project from beginning to end, making sure the devices are fitted for at-home use.

Only 250 iPads are in the program, but through strategic resource management, the Independence administrative team has ensured this program will be sustainable. They have added a technology backpack program in addition to the iPads. Any student in need of a device for home use now has access to one through the school.

Once loaned, students can use the iPads for as long as they need to, up to graduation. The iPads allow students to complete schoolwork, email teachers, and work on college applications. Family members are also benefiting. Parents are emailing teachers and checking on their student’s progress via ParentVue. Students often use the loaned iPads to help their siblings with their schoolwork, in addition to doing their own.

Knight and Dalusung also provide in-person and over-the-phone support for the iPads, not only for students, but for parents as well. Their willingness to help often surprises the students and parents. But they don’t just solve the problem, they walk the student through how to fix the issue, so the student learns in the process. Beyond the practical uses, the iPads have also proved to be a means to “build relationships of trust with and among the students,” said Knight.

The attitude at Independence is “we believe in you,” shared Robert Eichorn, principal. “We have a device to help you on your path to graduation.” When students borrow a device, what may seem like a simple thing may be an opportunity for students to see adults come through on their word – and this helps to establish trust. Teachers serve as accountability partners when they follow up on students who, even though they have a borrowed device on hand, aren’t completing their online work.

What started as a tech solution for supporting students and families has blossomed into a means for building community and trust between students, families, and staff. “Giving and receiving joy cannot be underestimated and is key to the success of any school community,” said Eichorn.

Enabling student success and building trust through innovative problem-solving is Positively PWCS!

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