“If educational technology and 1:1 education are going to thrive, school leaders must be focused on constantly employing the best practices and tools in relation to the most pressing needs of their students. Managing and sustaining these programs means that the big choices don’t stop after a platform has been selected. Getting devices in the hands of students is just the beginning.”
I have listened to and been a part of many discussions or debates about the specific platform that schools should use for their 1:1 program. At some level most of these discussions end with people listing the benefits of their preferred choice. Spending too much time focused on choosing “the” device can narrow the focus on what the purpose of having the technology is in the first place.
While I can’t republish the Mind/Shift article here in its entirety, here is a link to the full article.
MacBook, Chromebook, iPads: Why Schools Should Think beyond Platform
I have dedicated a fair amount of my life to redefining the experience in my classroom over the past 3 years. I still have a lot to do but I am proud of how far I have come. I count the following among my successes.
-Students are far more central to class activities than they ever were. I give them more choices and much more control not only in what we learn but how we will learn it.
-The products that students submit are widely varied but show a deeper understanding of learning.
-We have deeper more nuanced conversations about our subject matter (history) than we ever have before. Students find messy histories that we need to make sense of, something that did not happen very often before.
-There are different voices being heard in my classes. Students who used to get A’s are contributing great things to class and students who once sat silent find ways to share in ways that weren’t possible before.
All of the above are the results of having tools that help me redefine learning, but redefining learning is not without consequences. If you are to promote the change, you should be aware of some potential consequences.
Some changes can been seen as destructive to the prevailing archetypes of how learning should take place. Intentionally or not, people can be threatened by, resistant to and dismissive of the changes. If you are closely associated with the change, they will project these feelings on you as well. Unsettling the masses wasn’t on my to do list, but in a sense the people who feel this way aren’t exactly wrong.
What I have gained from all of this is that the best way to drive change is not to become the evangelical techie who condemns the practices of other teachers, but to respect the effective teaching they have done and show them where technology can add to what they already do so well. Accept that the transformation technology creates in the classroom is not imposed, but is rather a process that a teacher undergoes once they understand what is now possible. That is where the actual growth and the real change happens.
If you present technology as the end of what we know and love, it is natural to resent it. Beware condemning their past practice. It is a common mistake. However, if we present technology as a tool that will help teachers to more effectively accomplish the goals that they have dedicated their lives to, we have to hope they will embrace it. One thing that I am proud of is that regardless of personality, every person I work with on a given day cares deeply about helping our students. They won’t hesitate to employ tools that make that possible.
This week I was honored to be a Featured Speaker at The EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA in Atlanta. I presented a session called “Navigating the 1st Year in a 1:1 Classroom”. I have had many requests for my presentation so I will make it available here. My goal was to help teachers to envision their ideal 1:1 classroom and help them to make it a reality. Please let me know if there is any further information I can provide you. You can find more of the presentations from EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA here.
1. Digital Natives=Digital Students: “They have grown up with technology and it’s like second nature to them.”
It is true that students use a lot of technology. Many teachers assume that this means that students will instantly feel comfortable using technology in the classroom. While it may be true of some, it is wrong to assume that it will be an easy transition. Today’s students use technology for some very specific things; games, social media, video chats, reading about their interests, possibly making movies. Once you start talking about curating information and synthesizing meaning from multiple sources, they will initially look at you blankly. They will come around but you are going to need to support them and help them get past the immediate difficulty. You will need to know what you want and how to help them get there. Otherwise the natives will be restless.
2. Immediate Engagement- “Students with devices will suddenly, magically connect with the content!”
Technology is not a panacea. Students see most technology as a social or recreational tool. We are doing nothing less than re-tasking their use towards an educational purpose. Once classes have made the transition teachers will have the ability to bring learning to a higher level and find deeper meaning. But before that can happen, you will have a lot of work to do. How will you help them to redefine the purpose of their device? How can you help socialize appropriate behavior? How can you get them to see the excitement and learning potential? Because until you do, you have armed them with a powerful learning tool that also just so happens to be a powerful distraction tool. Teachers are going to have to help them connect with the material just as much as they ever did before. You better have a plan.
3. Time: “Going 1:1 will save time in the classroom” and/or “Going 1:1 will consume time that I can’t afford to lose.”
Really both of these are right and wrong in that going 1:1 will force you to totally reevaluate where you spend your time. You will have to review each activity and each lesson to see how it is affected by the new “Economy of Information” in your classes. What you do will change and so will how you do it. In this regard going 1:1 will upset you because it will shatter your time budget. Nearing the end of my first 1:1 semester I see that I am starting from square one. In some places I have gained time. In others I have lost it. In reality what has happened is I have redistributed time based upon a new set of classroom values. I have divorced myself from the timeline that is in essence based upon a textbook and retooled it based upon my districts learning objectives and the needs and interests of my students.