In the APS 2011-17 Strategic Plan, the community set a goal to ensure that every student from grade 2 through 12 has a personal digital learning device to support instruction. The Strategic Plan states that APS should create vital and engaging, technology-rich learning environments, provide an infrastructure for learning and utilize state-of-the-art technology that creates engaging, relevant and personalized learning experiences for all learners regardless of background, language or disabilities.
The division has taken a phased, methodical approach to implementing deployment of personal devices for every student in grades 2 through 12. In the first phase of the project, APS upgraded the network infrastructure, moved the devices from computer labs to the classroom, provided professional development to teachers, and explored a variety of digital devices through pilot programs in each school.
APS began its upgrade of network infrastructure in 2011. To date, completed key elements of the project include:
- Upgrading the network core (core router, firewall)
- Completely redesigning and expanding the wireless infrastructure
- Placement of a wireless access point in every classroom
- Increasing Internet bandwidth and adding a redundant Internet connection
- Significantly expanding the network storage available to APS students and staff
- Establishing an enterprise Mobile Device Management (MDM) system to efficiently manage the personal devices
Looking forward, current network utilization projections anticipate that the network infrastructure must be able to accommodate up to 90,000 devices by 2017. With the movement toward making a broad spectrum of devices ranging from televisions to refrigerators network-connected or ‘smart’, the upward trend of connected devices is expected to continue indefinitely.
APS has selected two types of devices, iPad Airs for elementary and middle schools and MacBook Airs for high school. The devices were selected based on three primary criteria:
- Effectiveness in supporting APS’s instructional programs
- APS’s ability to efficiently and effectively manage the devices
- Total cost of ownership
Analysis conducted as part of the 2012-13 pilots led the division to the conclusion that an iPad tablet was a viable instructional option for elementary and middle school levels, and that high school students needed the additional functionality provided by a full notebook.
APS recognizes that technology is constantly changing. As the program progresses different devices may be selected in future years based on changing requirements and the industry introduction of additional options.
Deployment of Devices
In the 2014-15 school year, the project moved into the deployment phase to begin putting personal devices in the hands of students. APS will complete its grade-by-grade rollout of devices to every student by 2017.