August 2014

Reposting from Innovate My School – Originally at http://bit.ly/1zNLxbf 

We’re in the twenty-fourth year of edu­ca­tors recog­nis­ing the ratio of 1:1 to mean one dig­i­tal device to one child, avail­able at school, at home and any­where. The very first exam­ple of 1:1 was at Ladies Methodist Col­lege in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia when these vision­ary edu­ca­tors took the bold step of pro­vid­ing lap­tops to every 5–12 grade stu­dent. This is fully chron­i­cled in the book “Never Mind the Laptops”.

Since then, there have been suc­cesses and stum­bles, but one thing is cer­tain: the school, dis­trict or region con­sid­er­ing 1:1 needs to set the goals and direc­tion clearly and com­pletely to ensure mean­ing­ful edu­ca­tional use. To do this it is impor­tant to ask:

Once we have dig­i­tal devices that are avail­able through­out the school, what will we do with them?”

The answer to this ques­tion should be deter­mined after deep reflec­tive think­ing. Just as edu­ca­tors teach inquiry-based learn­ing so that the ques­tions from stu­dents are not sur­face but of depth and sub­stance, so should the edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tion embark on deep and mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion to answer this ques­tion. Mis­sion and edu­ca­tional goals should drive the answer but so should the pos­si­bil­i­ties that might not have existed before. No school improve­ment pro­gramme has the depth and poten­tial for edu­ca­tion change than pro­vid­ing dig­i­tal devices to every stu­dent and teacher in a school.

Answers can come from thor­ough research on what works and what doesn’t, espe­cially from Project Red. We also have one of the pre­vi­ously largest pro­grammes, the State of Maine, with a long-range researched pro­gramme. Other answers can come from pock­ets of excel­lence such as the Urban School in San Fran­cisco which took the avail­abil­ity of lap­tops for stu­dents into new and amaz­ing heights when they began reach­ing out to their com­mu­nity and inter­view­ing Holo­caust sur­vivors. The Urban School is now get­ting stu­dents to inter­view adults to tell their sto­ries of the civil rights move­ment and his­toric moments. What an amaz­ing exam­ple of stu­dents mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in their local and national com­mu­nity, and attain­ing inter­na­tional renown. No one else has done what they have done. This pos­si­bil­ity only arose once stu­dents had dig­i­tal devices.

Another exem­plar is the Sci­ence Lead­er­ship Acad­emy in Philadel­phia. Project-based, inquiry-driven and student-centered, the dig­i­tally device-equipped stu­dents design and run projects, fully empow­ered by mobile dig­i­tal devices. They’ve received vis­its and inter­est from Barack Obama and many oth­ers, as the school achieves great suc­cess in an urban space with a mean­ing­ful and reflec­tive approach to learn­ing. Vis­it­ing a com­puter lab once a week could never offer this type of depth.

At my for­mer employer, The Peck School in Mor­ris­town, NJ lap­tops were orig­i­nally con­sid­ered as a home­work aide. Stu­dents with busy lives were hav­ing trou­ble com­plet­ing home­work, espe­cially with trav­el­ling require­ments from being part of sports teams and some­times liv­ing in more than one home because of divorce or sep­a­ra­tion. Lap­tops pro­vided the vehi­cle for tak­ing the work any­where, turn­ing in home­work elec­tron­i­cally, and keep­ing the arte­facts and resources of learn­ing in school with stu­dents at all times. But Peck did not stop there. Teach­ers worked hard to incor­po­rate these dig­i­tal devices into nearly all aspects of teach­ing and learn­ing. When I worked at Peck and peo­ple wished to visit to see lap­top use, I just had to be sure there weren’t tests hap­pen­ing in spe­cific class­rooms on the days of visit, as there would be lap­tops used otherwise.

Teach­ers often find dif­fer­en­ti­ated learn­ing to be accom­plished more fully using 1:1 because dif­fer­ent stu­dents can be assigned dif­fer­ent parts of a unit accord­ing to inter­est or level, and then work in that group on their own dig­i­tal devices using all the resources available.

St. Thomas Epis­co­pal Parish School in Coral Gables, Florida used lap­tops to fur­ther their stu­dent of life in Ancient Mesopotamia, a sig­na­ture yearly project. Stu­dents can learn dif­fer­ent aspects of this ancient civ­i­liza­tion and then come back together with their con­tri­bu­tions to the whole project. Every stu­dent is at a level play­ing field with devices and resources to empower their learning.

I vis­ited NSW Aus­tralia and saw some excel­lent uses of 1:1, includ­ing stu­dents emi­grat­ing to Aus­tralia and par­tic­i­pat­ing in a cul­ture and speech class. Their dig­i­tal devices allowed them to cre­ate per­sua­sive and infor­ma­tive speeches about their process of learn­ing the cul­ture and lan­guage of their new coun­try. Addi­tion­ally, cre­at­ing a record of their learn­ing in progress allowed them to return to each speech and under­stand their own growth and progress. Because tech­nol­ogy cre­ates this type of record, the arc of learn­ing can be under­stood and eval­u­ated not just by the teacher, but also by the learner. Hav­ing this per­sonal and mobile device meant learn­ing was pos­si­ble in mul­ti­ple ways and in mul­ti­ple spaces.

The pos­si­bil­i­ties are enor­mous once reflec­tive edu­ca­tors con­sider how the ratio of 1:1 can open up learn­ing in new ways. Don’t hold back, embrace 1:1 and see what can happen.

Always happy to speak about 1-to-1 –let me know your thoughts.

– Pamela

{ 0 comments }