1:1 I Want to Know Your Story

Dear Fellow Educators,

I work with a group of educators in a school that is not flush with resources (imagine that). Money has to be spent very strategically and I am determined not to make the same mistakes we have made in the past.  Twenty years ago we put TV’s and VCR’s in every room because teachers and students needed to access the video that could be provided.  After studying the use pattern, very little changed in the way of pedagogy and student learning.  Five years ago we put interactive white boards in all but a few rooms.  Some teachers have learned to use them very well, but for many it is simply a digital white board.  I am not blaming teachers.  I am blaming short sighted decision making and lack of support provided by administration (read….me, although the tv’s came while I was teaching).  One to one computing gets a lot of attention now days.  I have visited a few buildings where every student has a computer.  I have not spent enough time in any one classroom to see if there has been a transformational change in student learning opportunities.  To be honest, the classrooms where I have seen 1:1 computing,  the activities there still seemed to be very teacher centered. (disclaimer: again, I have not spent enough time in any one classroom or school to make any kind of enlightened conclusion).  What I would like to know from those who are working in schools that have implemented 1:1 initiatives is:

  • 1. What did your district/school do to prepare both students and teachers for learning in a 1:1 environment?
  • 2. How has student learning activity changed in your room/building?
  • 3. How has teacher practice changed?
  •  4. What would you do different if you had it to do over again?

 Picture courtesy of Joe Wilcox’s photostream on Flickr

12 thoughts on “1:1 I Want to Know Your Story

  1. Responding to the post from J. Markey’s repost…Dave, as a technology coach in a recently enabled 1:1 high school district I can say with certainty that widespread change in teacher practice did not occur until the concept of training teachers to utilize “technology” also moved to a 1:1 basis. In that I mean that we’ve positioned the model so that I and the other coaches (there are 4 of us ) can respond to an individual teacher’s demands. My job is full-time coaching across the district. My focus is on practice, not just tools.
    I read from your post a dilemma many schools have faced. Why didn’t TV change things? Why don’t Smart boards change things? How can 1:1 change things? The tool can’t, but the user can!
    So transformation success does not come from introducing the next technology, it comes from assisting teachers to define student outcomes based on the reach that the new tool delivers. Focus on the change enabled…not the tool!

  2. Hi Dave,
    I am piloting a 1:1 iPad deployment in my classroom. I undertook the pilot as part of our Common Core initiative. For me, the extensive training I have received on CCSS instructional shifts gave me a solid foundation for changing the way I approached teaching & learning – focusing more on student centered learning, differentiation, higher order thinking skills, project based learning.

    The devices naturally assist that – but it has to be about changing your mindset & your expectations, not the technology. It was the same when our IWBs were installed. The teachers who were willing to learn the technology & change their teaching approach saw the most positive impacts. You must give your teachers as much training as possible, on the devices themselves, on what the expectations are for changing teaching & learning approaches, and WHY those expectations are changing. And they need lots of resources for practical, real life examples & ideas.

    I was thrilled to pilot, and took the time to do extensive research & planning before my iPads arrived. I was familiar with the devices & technology. I volunteered for this. And it’s still really, really hard. Because I need more models, more resources, more peers, more time. Implementing new standards, new technology, and a new way of teaching is overwhelming.

    Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t change a thing. I love what I see happening in my classroom – my students are starting to take control of their learning, they are fully engaged, they are excited to be at school & they are making great progress in their learning & their technology skills. It is incredibly exciting. But it really came down to my willingness to put in the time & effort to change, the realization that the devices are only tools that assist in this change, and my own acknowledgment that creating this change is a process. Pretty similar to when I first started teaching & had to slowly build my skills and resources as I gained experience. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Start building that foundation now.

  3. Lindsey, Thanks for your input. How many students are in your classroom? School? Are there any other teachers piloting the program in your school? What supports have you been provided by your school?

  4. Kutztown HS in Pennsylvania is in our 9th year of being an Apple 1:1. I have only been here for 41/2 years but I can share what we learned. We had professional development from Apple as part of our lease. We also had coaching available through grant moneys. Teachers received their laptops a year before students and during that year there was professional development. The district did much PR prior to distribution of the laptops. The amount of resources available to teachers and students then, is nothing compared to now.
    Our school invested in Moodle about 5 years ago. We have a requirement that it must be used in each class and require expectations in terms of activities. This pushes teachers outside of the box and we have seen improvement in pedegogical practice. Using discussion threads and requiring a high level of writing in those threads has helped with writing across the curriculum. We have moved away from teacher centered to more constructivist activities, but that requires time. Building a base of teachers willing to stretch has helped move others along. Our PLC’s, common plan time, and grade level meetings provides opportunities to share ideas. We still have a long way to go but with ever changing technology and programs no one should.
    In terms of teacher practice? If we ever dropped this program, I would not have a staff any more. This is such an imbedded part of who and what we are.
    What have we learned.? Training, training and more training. Administration needs to be in integral part. Principals and superintendents need to model integration and they need to be prepared to hold teachers accountable for appropriate use. Once a bad habit starts, it’s hard to break. Play time is important. Not just time to learn a program but time to play with it and twist it to fit our needsEncourage experimentation.
    As an Apple Distinquished School for three years, we welcome visitors who would like to see how we continue to work through growing along with the technology.

  5. I have 23 students in my classroom, and I teach a second section of reading for 23 more students. So the iPads have two users, but since they are never in my room at the same time it works fairly well. We have about 350 students in our school, and I am the only one piloting. There are around 15 teachers piloting in different schools within the district, at all different grade levels.

    We were provided 2 days of training through Apple when we received our teacher devices last spring. We also had a day of PD geared towards management & curriculum over the summer. Both focused on the need to change our practices, as opposed to just adding technology. In addition, we all were part of the CCSS team that received extensive training on instructional shifts.

    Several tech coaches were hired by the district to assist in various aspects of technology implementation. Unfortunately, our tech coordinator who was in charge of most technology initiatives in the district took another job shortly after school started. Although the tech coaches are available to assist with specific needs, no ongoing PD has been offered – I think largely because our “expert” is gone, and finding for outside PD is limited or non-existent.

    My biggest issue is that I don’t really have any local peers available who are ahead of me in this journey to learn from. Even the few pilot teachers in my district are at different grade levels. I rely on social media to find other educators who are using 1:1 and making changes in their teaching approaches. But it’s not quite the same as being able to visit another classroom & interact with those teachers & students. I would like to see more ongoing PD and collaboration opportunities within my district, or even between local districts.

  6. Hey this is Drew! (Former student, don’t judge that I read your blog…)

    Hopefully I can offer a slightly different perspective as a current college student, not a current educator.

    For starters, this is a great post — one of my favorites. I think wisely evaluating how money is spent is a fine and dying art. Kudos on admitting past mistakes regarding the TVs and Smart boards. I can tell you honestly that neither social media, Smart boards, nor outmoded TVs helped me to learn in any meaningful way in high school. Occasionally, they were useful tools, but my happiest, brightest, and most insightful moments of HS came from “teacher-centered” education where the instructor was educated, wise, and adept. Effective teaching styles and appropriate use of self are what propelled my educational experience, and those methods were rare.

    I cannot answer the very specific questions you ask. As for 1:1 in college, of course almost everyone is linked to a laptop and they are often useful tools. But they are not magical instruments of transformation. I mean.. being on facebook during class -is- the free space in boring college class bingo.


    • Drew, So glad you dropped by! Interesting to hear your perspective. When you talk about teacher centered instruction, can you describe what that instruction consisted of? Was it teacher to student only or was it a dialogue that was full of exchanges between students and the teacher? What useful things did you do in high school that included social media? So, do we go 1:1 or not? Hope things are going well for you!

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