Random Thoughts

How to go 1:1

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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 #1
Give 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 #2

Roughly 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 laptop
A ceiling mounted LCD projector
A 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 be held to a higher standard with a new evaluation system that will come with the program.

We took a quick poll during our meeting today and we were split 50-50 on the approach we thought would be most effective to bring about this change and prepare our staff for the 1:1 to follow.

So, I put this out there to you…what plan would you choose? Which one makes more sense to you? Is there something we’re missing?

[tags]sas, 1:1, 21st Century Learning[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. GREAT post, Jeff. You’ve just tilted my position on how to advise my own school to make the transition next year. I vote for this:

    “…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 be held to a higher standard with a new evaluation system that will come with the program.”

    And I don’t know why I hadn’t seen the “classroom set” of laptops earlier. One drawback dawns on me now, though. How can students do 24/7 work on projects if they don’t own the laptops?

    I’d really like to read your thoughts about that.

    One final question: Could you ask David what sort of “ceiling-mounted classroom microphone” is available to record class discussions for podcasts? He wrote an article, “A Day in the Life of Web 2.0 Classroom” or something like that in TechLearning months ago, and I’ve had no luck getting an answer to this simple nuts-and-bolts question. My principal is ready to buy when I give him a model.

    I’m a teacher, not a tech guru, so I need some geek wisdom from above.


  2. Hi, I’m a Technology Integrator for a school district of about 2,200 student and 500 staff in central Maine, USA.
    My 2cents (thanks David 😉 would most certainly be for Option # 1. We provided laptops for all of our teachers last year and there is a very different mind set when someone has their own ‘communication device’ (which the laptop really is) then when they have to go to the special tech room down the hall.
    Being in Maine, we have the benefit of having 1 to 1 laptops for all 7th and 8th graders provided by the state and it’s wonderful. BUT, I have seen more tangible benefit to students when the teacher has a machine they are comfortable with and are expected to use.
    Depending on where the skill level of your staff is, this will delicately force those resistant up to a certain level, while allowing those ‘front runners’ the ability to go as fast as they want. And the projector is a necessity.

  3. This is a very tough choice to make. Having been in an option 2 and now working in an option 1, here’s how I rank the 2.

    My old school had a Model Tech. Teacher program where a handful of teachers had these “21st Century” classrooms. I was lucky to be one of the ones chosen to be in the program 3 years ago. As of 2 weeks ago when I left to become a technology specialist at another school we were up to 8 teachers in the program now, originally starting with just myself and another teacher. In that time we hand selected teachers each year to work with to ‘mentor’ on how to properly and effectively use the technology in their room. The goal behind the mentoring aspect to me is one on one collaboration between 2 teachers. This fostered the “I want what they have” attitude, so now there is a waiting list to get in the program.

    Now to my new school. Every teacher has a laptop for themselves, 2 laptops as student computers, an LCD projection system connected to both a vcr/dvd combo and their docking station and a sound system/mic. From my walking about the campus I see some utilization of the technology in their room. But the main thing I’ve been hearing in the last week and a half is “I don’t know how to use this the right way. Will you show me how???” A year to ‘try out’ the equipment is ok, but you NEED to have some sort of plan in place to train the teachers to know how to effectively use it, i.e. best practices.

    Just my 2copper pieces on this. Curious to see how it turns out for you.

  4. Pingback: How to go 1:1 » TEACHnology 1:1 Leaders

  5. Likely #2. PD and change on this level needs to be invitational. YOu’ll get more bang for your buck. Having teachers apply indicates some ownership and responsibility. Just giving them one, like we did with desktop computers years ago, likley won’t make a significant difference. Learning needs to be inviting.

  6. Jeff,

    What are you waiting for?

    If you can do it now then do it!.

    I have been a part of two 1:1 teacher laptop implementations and one thing is very clear. There more people you can bring on board and train at the same time the more mometum and energy you will create.

    If your expectations are to have teachers using these tools that are already firmly in place in the “real world” ,then why (outside of cost) would you wait a whole year to get an answer you already know.

    Mobile computing allows teachers to move, teach, share resoures and interact with media in ways never thought possible. It opens up so many opportunites for collaboration and invisible conversations that will occur outside of your training sessions. It is those invisible conversations that are at the core of a successful program. Teachers as learners, risk-takers, and experimenters.

    Go with your gut!
    It has not failed you yet.

    If you want to see it in action.
    Come on down. It could be the push you are looking for.

  7. In my district several years ago we transitioned from a catch-as-catch can purchasing to a sustained effort to get everyone on similar platforms and software. It basically was going from buying a Mac here a Mac there depending on the mood of the administrator or funds that might be around at the end of the year to a planned shared purchasing vision. It essentially was moving to Windows based networks and Windows machines in our small computer labs and into our classrooms. Our teachers have on assigned period for the lab per week (with lots of open slots for extra sign up) where they present a group lesson. We knew that they would face at some point, transitioning their Mac lessons to Windows. We moved first by getting a Windows machine into every classroom, then the following year, changing over the labs. The fact that the teachers had the coming technology in their hands (and the fact that our report cards, and email went Windows – all teacher must do’s) made the transition to teaching group lessons in the labs, more successful. I am not sure we would have made the change if all of a sudden in September they showed up and faced the challenge of seeing a bunch of Windows machines fro the first time. Putting the technology in the hands of teacher first seemed to be a better option for transition.

    I am seeing something similar with our transition to Smartboard enabled classrooms. Each of the school’s computer labs have a Smartboard and overhead projector. We are also moving grade by grade (4, 3, 2, etc.) through the classrooms defining a “modern classroom” as one that has these tools. Everybody has access to the Smartboards in the lab, and folks are taking small steps in using them. However the big jumps are coming from folks who have them in their rooms, where they are quickly becoming part of their daily teaching.

    I have lots of small pieces of technology that can be “borrowed and shared” from a central location in the building. A handful of laptops in each building, plug-in WAPS, digital movie cameras, Alphasmarts, even iPods. Inevitably, the most use comes when we can build up enough of a critical mass that I can assign then to a “team” or “wing”, or classroom and I am often disappointed that things in the centralized location don’t move around as much as I think they should. The more aggressive teachers tend to dominate and hoard the shared resource, and/or the techo-shy ones don’t bother because it is just an extra hassle to go get it and set it up (or ask for help in using the stuff).

    Now having said that there are times when you just have to go with a shared resource just to get access to that technology. If all goes well in budget season, I will have an opportunity to put a wireless laptop cart(s?) in every building. It will have to be shared, it won’t be even, but I won’t miss this chance and this sweet spot in time to get them in place to demonstrate their usefulness as the following year will will make major renovations in my 50 year old buildings and I want concrete examples of what we can do w/ wireless technology so that making the every building wireless is part of the educational vision for the renovation project.

    My counterpart at the middle school has used the “apply and tell us how you are going to use this” approach to distribute Smartboards. That worked as an initial carrot and helped build momentum and support for us to make the case we needed this in all of our classrooms, in every building. he did have a “team” of teachers apply and ask that it be put in one rooms so they could switch classes when they wanted to use Smartboards. They never switch. They guy who got it, got it.

    I think I might have just argued myself back around full circle on all sides of the comments. I guess it depends a bit on money, future hopes for sustained funding, and the ability and willingness of the staff to share.

  8. Jeff,

    Great blog BTW, it’s been interesting to follow Warlick’s visit.

    Having planned and currently in a 1:1 Tablet PC program, and seeing that your goal is for 2008-09, I’d have to say definitely go with option 1. You need to change the culture of your school to be technology-driven, and you need to get your teachers comfortable with the machines long before the students have them. You also need to give your school time to rework the curriculum to incorporate these new classrooms tools. If this is really what your admin wants to do with the school, then your school is changing in a big way and the writing is on the wall that this is the direction the school is now going. That right there is your motivation for teachers to get on board.

    My 2cents would be to go Tablets rather than normal laptops, because they offer so much more in a classroom environment. Plus a tablet and a wireless projector make a SmartBoard obsolete, for less money. If you are interested, Toshiba used our program as an example of ‘best practices’ in doing this type of thing and created a couple of videos. You can find links to them on our web site or on Toshiba’s education pages (we’re Brophy).

    We gave our teachers tablets a year before the freshman class had them. We also did a pilot program with one class of students and gave them tablets for a year. We learned SO MUCH from that pilot – what worked, what didn’t, how to get everything working right, etc. – and it was much easier to manage with a small group. We also rewrote much of our freshman curriculum to incorporate the tablets into the daily classroom activities, and went searching for the best digital resources to support the new curriculum.

    Anyway, if this is the new direction for the school then you need all the time you can get to start working towards that culture-shift, because cultures don’t change quickly.

  9. Hi Jeff:

    Interesting debate. As a person with a vested interest in this, it is hard to look at is objectively. The point was raised that change (and that’s what it really is for us) needs to be inviting and those who are keen will follow through with it. But what about those who are somewhat…resistant? Are they overlooked until it is said they must get on board? If so then your position as a technology intergration person is more difficult becasue no only do you have to help them teach the kids the technology (can I say that when the kids are more advanced in a lot of ways?) but also teach the teacher which in some cases may limit the amount of true integration that happens. I have been luck enough to work with you and you have given us hours to help us start realizing what we can do…and we are eager, but what about those not as keen. I think they need that extra time to learn the tools available to them before they are using them in the class.

  10. If I am not mistaken, the question really is an allocation of resources. This is not whether or not there will be a cultural shift within the buidling. You are determining whether to give everyone the technology, or create a select group of teachers.

    My thoughts are simple. If everyone has a laptop, and there is a 3:1 teacher – LCD projector ratio, then it is apparent that students throughout the building, will be exposed to web-based technologies within their classrooms. Sure, student exposure will not be even, and the learning curve amongst the staff will vary tremendously. However, to wait until the teachers are trained, or to focus your resources on a select number of rooms or teachers, does not help the students attending classes today. Unless your entire district is funded with the technology described in option two, your district may achieve its educational goal more easily with option 1. Also, putting laptops, or tablets in the hands of teachers, and giving the a reasonable accessibility to LCD projectors, will create onwership, and we all know how important ownership is to the cycle of change.

  11. John Witter Reply

    I have been teaching in a 1:1 district for 5 years. Option 1 is the way to go. The most critical factor in a successful 1:1 environment is still the teacher and your teachers, like your students need opportunity to grow into the technology. Many of our strongest and creative teachers were luddites early on. You will be denying your students some of their strongest advocates if you don’t give all your teachers the opportunity to participate in the change.

  12. Hey…just fwiw, before I left my school we piloted a classroom model where the teacher had a tablet pc, a ceiling mounted projector, wireless connection between the two, and wireless connection to the Internet. We set up 33 teachers the first year to work out the kinks, think about the pedagogies, etc. Then, those teachers did all of the pd for the rest of the staff, about 225 teachers. Let me just say this. 90 percent of the people involved found that model to be transformative to their teaching. We wrote a white paper on it for Dell at http://weblogg-ed.com/2006/testing-the-publish-to-blog-feature-at-thinkfreecom/


  13. Pingback: Day four with Warlick at The Thinking Stick

  14. Jeff, I agree with Justin, you should come down and see us. I am sure that SAS doesn’t think you are spending enough of their money yet!

    Really, at our school, we have laptops in every teacher’s hands and smartboards in every teachers rooms (with only a few exceptions) and you would find that time here instructive if only as an opportunity to talk with teachers about how their students’ learning has been transformed. And I say students’ learning, rather than teachers’ teaching, purposefully. Because this is the part that concerns me about the comments pushing the tablets…to say that the wireless projector and the tablet replace the smartboard is to ignore completely the STUDENT use of the board and the student interaction with the computer environment.

    One model would be to supply the students with tablets as well, but now not only are you no longer cost effective, but you are forcing the digital-immigrant need to “write” into the computer, onto our digital-native student who does not need this.

    We aren’t there yet, but we’re getting there. You really need to come down to Bangkok.

  15. Jeff–
    I am involved in the state of Pennyslvania’s Classrooms for the Future high school reform initiative. We are in year 1 of a 3 year grant and are struggling with some of the same questions. The decision was made prior to the grant being funded, to create 10 model classrooms as well as additional mobile carts–then we received grant funds which allowed us to get additional computers. The teachers who have the model classrooms are struggling with the fact that their kids don’t have 24/7 use of computers. They have such great ideas and are growing in leaps and bounds….there is no turning back for them. They are doing amazing things to develop thoughtful learners. That being said, there is becoming a HUGE gap between the teachers that have had use of the 21st Century tools and those that have not–they are developing lessons to build 21st Century skills, while many of the other teachers are doing the same old thing….That’s not to say that there aren’t a ton of teachers that are banging down the principals door to become the next wave…and feeling the frustration of not having the tools available. I have also seen the struggle between the haves and the have nots–how do you justify what teachers make up the 40%. If you have the opportunity (and the support–WOW 3 folks to do PD) I say begin to develop that atmosphere with your teachers…and grow from there.

  16. I recently did a Podcast with Paul White .. the Technology Director at New International School in Thailand (in fact Bangkok)
    Paul has been in the school for nearly three years now and the school is well into its 1-to-1 tablet programme with wireless data projectors in all classrooms ….
    I ended up splitting our conversation into 2 Podcasts … the second is purely about the 1-to-1 scheme.
    You can find the Podcast(s) at http://www.shambles.net/podcasting
    Hope you find them interesting and helpful …. I did.

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