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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Planning for 21st Century Technologies

Finished! Thank you to everyone who gave feedback over the five posting about a 21st Century Tech plan. I have been rethinking, reworking, and rewriting based on the comments left on the blog posts and created this 21 page PDF document that brings it all together. Planning for 21st Century Technologies I hope it is useful to someone! Update: This plan was polished up, reorganized and published in this book in June 2009. Technorati Tags: techplan, technology, education, 21st Century Learning, jeffutecht, technology...

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Tech Plan Part 5 – Conclusion

Full PDF of the entire Tech Plan will be out shortly with updates from those who left comments and made me think! In the 21st Century, schools need to support locally but think globally. School’s must have a local infrastructure that supports learning but that allows students and teachers to learn and interact globally. Technology plans of the 21st Century must focus on student learning and continue to ask the questions “What do students need to learn and what skills do they need to accomplish that learning objective?” If schools can embrace the changes of the 21st Century: The skills, learning theories, and literacies students need to be successful, then creating a system that supports learning in this new digital age should be a top priority. A 21st Century Tech Plan looks to bring people and resources together. A system that allows all school stake holders to log on through a single system and access the information they need when they need it. It should allow stake holders to communicate more efficiently. By creating a network of users you allow them to connect to each other, forming relationships that are natural to student’s today. Schools must embrace the changes that the digital age has brought. Schools must understand that by not creating a digital landscape for our learners that we alienate them and miss opportunities to engage them in the learning process. No tech plan is easy to implement. Technology is a moving target. A multi year tech plan is really a year to year tech plan with a guide to the direction the school wants to go. This is why it is critical to meet the needs of the school today with an eye on tomorrow. A tech plan must be fluid, it must be adaptable. In the digital age one skill that we must teach our students is to learn, unlearn and relearn information as it changes. The same is true with a tech plan. Build it, Evaluate it, Revise it on a yearly basis. Good schools in the 21st Century always have a three year tech plan because they are constantly changing their end goals based on new emerging technologies. To say the programs that I have mentioned in this document are what a school should do would be absurd. They are merely examples of programs that are available to schools today for little or no...

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Tech Plan Part 4 – Implementation

When you get right down to it all the technology in the world and the best support structure are nothing if you do not take the time to implement the technology in a way that supports the structure of the entire plan. The process of implementing your tech plan can have lasting consequences on the buy in you get from stake holders. Implement the plan correctly and you bring the stake holders and the system along at the same time. Implemented incorrectly you can end up alienating stake holders or never fulfilling your tech plan’s goals. Most schools do not have the financial freedom to implement a complete technology plan in the span of one year. Therefore, schools are forces to implement new technologies, new plans, over several years. Let’s face it, in the end it has to do with money. You need money to implement the tech plan. From switches and wires, to teacher training and support, it all costs money. Because schools are forced into multi year plans it is easy to get stuck in a routine of working on or focusing on one part of the plan without ever moving on. Infrastructure is usually where this happens. Schools decide they are going to focus on upgrading their infrastructure over a period of time. By the time they get done upgrading it is time to replace the 3 to 5 year old equipment to meet new standards. In these cases schools continually work on their infrastructure and never truly implement the technology into the school or classroom. There are two things I believe can be done when creating a tech plan and implementing that tech plan. First, you must identify what it is you want end users to be able to do on a year to year basis. From there work backwards and create your infrastructure needs based on what you want teachers and students to do that year. Do not overbuild your infrastructure but instead build it to meet your users needs. Secondly, evaluate your technology and implementation plan on a yearly basis. You might create a 3 or 5 year tech plan, but technology does not stand still or wait for anyone. Start with the end in mind Doug Johnson provides a nice visual of the different layers of technology needs in school. I like the fact that the diagram shows that it is the...

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Tech Plan Part 3- Support

Support Structure You can have the best educational portal, and the best infrastructure, but if you do not have the support in place to both help teachers use/understand technology and support infrastructural needs then the money you spend on hardware will be lost. Throughout the late 90s and into the 21st century schools have spend a lot of money on computer hardware and technology systems and infrastructures. Now that these systems are in place we must think and rethink the support needed to not only keep these systems up-to-date but also how it impacts teaching and learning in the classroom. I wrote a posting in June of 2007 where I outline a two prong approaches to technology support in schools. Below is the diagram that I created to outline that support structure: ITs (Informational Technologists): These people know networks, their job is to make sure day in and day out that the network is healthy. They focus on keeping viruses out, keeping computers running, and making sure that the overall school network is in place, up-to-date, and working. ETs (Educational Technologists): These people know education. They will likely have had classroom experience and have been put into positions as ETs because of their use of technology in the classroom. Although they may be familiar with networks and the hardware of the school, their focus is on the tools, the learning, and the training to embed technology into day to day classroom use. Schools first focused on hiring IT postions. People that can make sure that the network and computers are running. But many times these ITs are pushed into the positions of ETs where they may not have classroom experience, may not be up on new tools, new approaches, or new methods in teaching and learning in a networked classroom. ETs on the other hand are hired to help teachers and teach students the technology skills and approach the district has adopted. Today, I believe I was to narrow in my support structure and the more I look at it the more I feel I left out a key component. The media/literacy specialist are a key component in the support structure of the school’s technology plan. I’ve reworked the image above to now include this new position. The Literacy/Media specialist is not a new position but instead an evolution of the librarian posting that today focuses not only on...

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