What's the purpose of going 1:1

(Full Disclosure: I believe every high school student should have a laptop) The New York Times wrote an article on May 4th, 2007 that resurfaced via Twitter last night. Titled Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops, It took me less than four paragraphs to start shaking my head in disbelief at the way this school district went about trying to, should I say, force students and teachers to use laptops and technology. It’s easy to say that technology is just a tool or that the technology needs to be invisible, but actually making that happen is harder than just saying it. Scores of the leased laptops break down each month, and every othermorning, when the entire school has study hall, the network inevitablyfreezes because of the sheer number of students roaming the Internetinstead of getting help from teachers. I love this paragraph. So the network goes down therefore more kids should be going to teachers for help right? I mean if they can’t “roam the Internet” in study hall then they should be asking for help right? Or how about this one: Many of these districts had sought to prepare their students for atechnology-driven world and close the so-called digital divide betweenstudents who had computers at home and those who did not. The reason why a school goes 1:1 is to close the digital divide? Not for learning, not for allowing students to take advantage of the wealth of information on the net…but just to close the digital divide? Like any tool…before you launch it you need to know what you want to do with it. What do you want users to be able to do, what do you expect and do you have a system in place to support it.  Maybe it’s me but creating a backwards by design model makes it pretty easy to assess just what you need to have in place before you go 1:1. What do you want students to do? If our purpose is student learning than all decisions should start by answering this question. What do we expect students to do with their laptops? What kind of experience do we want them to have? What learning do we hope to see/expect from them when the laptops are in use. Starting with what you want students to do with the laptops allows you to create a plan that will support their use....

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First quarter reflection

Friday marked the end to the first quarter of the school year at ISB. As my first quarter here comes to a close I’ve started to reflect on the experience so far. There is a reason why international schools make you sign a two year contract. It takes at least a year to get your feet on the ground, to figure out where you belong in the school, and acclimate to the your new host country. Personally Thailand is feeling more like home daily. Our stuff has arrived from Shanghai and our apartment is feeling more like home every day. We’re slowly figuring out the language, the customs and just how to live. It takes time to adjust. It takes time to find the right milk brand, the fruit you want, the stores with the best prices, etc. On the school front I’m feeling a little disjointed at the moment. I feel behind the scenes we’re doing some good stuff. We’ve created a school YouTube account and already have 31 videos uploaded. We’ve bought a Flickr account for ES, MS, and HS. The elementary has already uploaded over 1,000 pictures. We’ve launched PantherNet PantherNet will be our educational portal when it is complete. When complete the image below depicts what will be in place for teachers and students. Moodle is already up and running, Elgg and WordPress MU should be in place before 2nd Semester and the wiki by the end of the year at the lastest. By the end of this year the school should have an e-learning portal in place that if it chooses to go 1:1 will be able to support the use of laptops in and out of school.  Even though the school has the hardware, human resources, and the e-learning space in place. It is still trying to wrap it’s head around this new learning landscape we now find ourselves in. What does learning look like? We’ve moved past trying to integrate technology, and looking at what learning looks like in 2008 and beyond. I think ISB is ready for that transition. We have the systems in place, we have the resources in place now we just need to take that leap and change our teaching methods and our learning outcomes to match the skills and ideas that students will need for their future and not our...

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Laptops Hinder Learning?

A Study on how laptops hinder learning made the front page of The International Educator newspaper that comes out monthly to overseas educators and schools. Jason Welker wrote a great article at U Tech Tips about it. First of all, to call this a “study” of the use of laptops inschools is inappropriate. A study with a sample size of TWO classes,yes, but its findings should be understood as applying only two thesetwo particular classes, which were large lecture-style universityclasses. This particular university’s laptop “program” is described asfollows: “Students were told at the beginning of the course thatthey could bring their laptops to class to take notes if they wantedto, but that they would never need their laptops.” (italics added) Any school thinking of implementing a laptop program should becareful NOT to emulate this university’s particular approach. What’sthe result when students are encouraged to use laptops, but told theywould “never need them”? Here’s what one professor observed: “‘You’d sit and watch the students, and wonder, ‘Whatare they doing with their laptops?’ You’d walk by other classes and seeeverybody playing solitaire. I wanted to know, ‘Is this a problem?,”‘said Fried, a psychology professor at Winona State. The laptop users reported in weekly surveys that they did otherthings other than take notes for an average of 17 minutes out of each75-minute class. Checking e-mail during the lectures was the most common distraction;81 per cent admitted to this transgression compared to 68 per centreporting that they used instant messaging. Forty-three per centreported surfing the Internet, while 25 per cent reported playinggames.” It should be no surprise that students spent most of their time withtheir laptops surfing the net, chatting and playing games, given thatprofessors apparently made no attempt to integrate the computers intotheir instruction. Obviously this represents a failure not of “laptopprograms” in general, rather of this university’s failure to implementa program effectively. The university’s failure lies in the simple factthat professors view the laptop as a fancy tool for taking notes,rather than what it is: a tool for communication, collaboration, andinnovative research. Laptop programs do not “hinder learning”, BAD laptop programs hinderlearning. The study discussed in this article focuses on one, very bad laptop program at a university that does not understand the role technology should play in education. Worth a read! [tags]laptops, 1:1[/tags] Technorati Tags: laptops, 1:1, Jason...

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How to go 1:1

Well, we’ve hit the half way point and I think for David the worst of it is over. Tomorrow we have a geek meet in the morning where all the technology teachers get to sit around and talk tech with David…sounds like a podcast opportunity to me. 🙂 We had some good conversation today and David was part of a meeting where the admin rolled out a plan to become a laptop school by 08-09. Our discussion today focused around how do we want to get there. The school is basically looking at two different options. I’ll post them here if anyone wants to give their 2cents worth (been hanging out with David to much) on them. Option #1Give every teacher a laptop next year. The admin have just returned from recruiting where they have hired two other positions like mine next year. That’s three full time technology trainers. In this model teachers would be given a laptop and almost every teacher would get an LCD projector. We do not have enough funds to make it a LCD projector and a laptop for everyone…but the worst would be a 1:3 projector to teacher ratio. This would give the teachers a full year of training on using computers in the classroom, of learning how having a personal laptop can and must change the way we teach.Option #2Roughly 40% of our teachers would get laptops with the rest of the money going towards what the admin is calling “21st Century Classrooms” (I think they should just be called classrooms…to me this should just be standard equipment). There would be 18 of these classrooms. That’s 3 at each division ES, MS, HS on both campuses. These classrooms would have the following: A teacher laptopA ceiling mounted LCD projectorWirelessA classroom set of laptops for students So, here’s the debate. If you are moving to a 1:1 environment which approach is better? Giving every teacher, even those who aren’t ready for one, a laptop and take a year to train your whole staff before bringing students onboard, or create these classrooms to become model classrooms, to show what the admin is expecting of the teachers. Teachers would have to ‘apply’ to receive one of the 21st Century Classrooms knowing that if they get chosen, that they will have a certain amount of PD they must attend and that at the same time they will...

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