What Happens When We Forget The Mind Shift

What Happens When We Forget The Mind Shift

I read an article today titled: Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of its Student Laptops. It only took me two seconds to figure out what the issue was here….I’ll give you a clue….it’s not the laptops. There are some interesting quotes and lines in this article that caught my attention. Now I don’t know this school district, I give them an A+ for trying something at least. It sounds like they got caught in the netbook era of computing and just couldn’t get out. What follows are some of my thoughts around what went wrong here. “We had the money to buy them, but maybe not the best implementation,” said Mark Toback, the current superintendent of Hoboken School District. “It became unsustainable.” Problem #1: The funding cycle Changing the mind set of thinking that technology is a one off capital expenditure rather than an operational cost. Technology, much like textbooks, paper, crayons, etc. need to be updated. This is issue #1 with our current system. Here the school was given stimulus money from the government…that I’m guessing…as usually….needed to be spent ASAP and on hardware. So it’s great we have this now…but thinking long term…thinking past year 2 or 3 needs to be a focus when starting a program. None of the school administrators who initiated Hoboken’s one-to-one laptop program still work there. Toback agreed to share Hoboken’s experiences so that other schools can learn from it. Personally I believe this is a solvable problem: Hire administrators who understand the changing nature of schools when every student is connected. Yes…you are going to have administrative turn-over. But hiring leaders who understand what giving a laptop to every student really means is on the School Board, the Superintendent and leadership. There are good administrators out there that get these changes….hire them….and then allow them to hire teachers who “get it”. This year alone, schools are projected to spend almost $10 billion on education technology, a $240-million increase from 2013, according to the Center for Digital Education. Problem #2: The Need to invest in PD Really this is the issue of this entire program and the entire way the system is structured and goes back to a post I wrote (along with others) about professional development. The National Staff Development Council still recommends 25% of funds for any new project be earmarked for PD. Why…because that’s what it takes! Meaning...

Read More

Why There Is No One Way To Go 1:1

Why There Is No One Way To Go 1:1

This past weekend I flew to Vietnam to spend two days with the Senior Management Team (SMT) of the British International School of Vietnam (BISVietnam). A two day retreat that focused on a future with technology and a 1:1 program.  There are so many different ways to go 1:1 and in my opinion no one right way to do it. There are so many variables that need to be considered that 1:1 programs can look drastically different from one school to the next and still be successful. Here are a few of the things we discussed: Money:   It’s always the elephant in the room and the problem with dreaming of endless possibilities without considering the cost leads one to believe that the dreams can become reality and in many cases it is just not financially feasible to fulfill our wildest technology dreams. As much as we want to say money is not a factor…..at some point it always is. Infrastructure: In many countries in Asia this can be the most frustrating part of the whole plan. We all read, watch, and see the amazing things that are happening on the web. However, to do those amazing things you need a web connection. In developing countries like Vietnam the Internet is expensive, unreliable, and most of the time just plain frustrating. BISVietnam currently has a 2MB Internet line for 1600 students. Think about that the next time you want to complain about your Internet speed.   You can not consider going 1:1 without looking at the cost and feasibility of it from an infrastructure standpoint. Money put into your infrastructure is always well spent but it also means every dollar that goes towards infrastructural improvements is dollars taken away from learning devices. Finding the balance is important. One thing that I stress is do not spend money on you infrastructure for the future. Support the here and now. If a school spends money building up an infrastructure that looks to support learning years from now then you’re wasting money. You might know what you will need two or three years from now…but you don’t need that today. The chances are the infrastructure your school will need in the future will get cheaper and faster. Example: You know you’re going to need more server space as students store more and more data on the Intranet. Calculate how much storage you’ll need this year and next year. But only purchase what you need for this...

Read More

The Next Phase of Technology at ISB

Last week our IT Director, Chad Bates, gave a presentation to the ISB School Board outlining the next phase of technology use at ISB. The phase includes a plan to go 1:1 starting next year with grade 6 students. It’s an exciting time to be at ISB and I for one am looking forward to rolling out the 1:1 program over the next couple years. As part of his presentation Chad went over the history of technology implementation at ISB over the past 10 years. As I sat there reflecting on how far we’ve come with technology in just the past 10 years, it amazed me how fast we’ve transitioned even if for many of us it doesn’t seem we’re transitioning fast enough. 1999: ISB has two computer labs in each division (ES, MS, HS) with technology teachers that pull kids out of class as a special. A very common practice in 1999. 2001: Under than IT Director Steve Lehmann ISB puts in a campus wide wireless network, and starts replacing computer labs with laptop carts at each division as part of the replacement cycle. 2004: ISB hires a Technology & Learning Coordinator (TLC) to help teachers implement technology in the classroom. Summer 2005: Bandwidth is increased to 1MB 2005: The TLC from 2004 returns to the classroom and the current team starts to take shape starting with Dennis Harter who is hired to be the TLC for Middle School and High School. Summer 2006: Bandwidth is increased to 2MB 2006: The Elementary School hires Justin Medved as the TLC and phases out computer labs in the ES and goes exclusively to laptops carts at each grade level. By 2007 ever teacher will be phased into using a laptop instead of a desktop computer in their classroom. Summer 2007: Bandwidth is increased to 5MB 2007: One of the elementary librarians moves to take another international job and the Elementary School takes the opportunity to rethink the overlap of technology and libraries and hires Kim Cofino as the 21st Century Literacy Specialist. Summer 2008: Internet bandwidth is increased to 10MB 2008: Justin Medved moves on to a new adventure and I’m hired as the new Elementary TLC and Chad Bates is hired as the Middle School TLC and for the first time ISB has a dedicated TLC at all three levels. Summer 2009: The wireless infrastructure is upgraded to N...

Read More

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...

Read More