Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Device for Every Student...

Over the course of the past year and a half I have debated via this blog the purpose, look/feel and desire for student devices. What exactly does that look like? What value does it provide? How do you measure success?

Here is a summary of my thoughts over that time...

Devices 4 Students (12/2008)
e-Textbooks v. Traditional Textbooks (1/2009)
Laptops for Teachers (4/2009)
Cell Phones in the Classroom (6/2009)
Is 1:1 The Solution? (10/2009)
Teacher Devices before Student Devices...(2/2010)

I am a firm believer that teachers should live and understand the 1:1 environment PRIOR to implementing ANYTHING for students. Fortunately, the district I am in currently teachers have had their hands on mobile devices for nearly 8 years. The next step is the correct and appropriate professional development that prepares them for the paradigm shift in their classroom of how student learning will take place. They must understand how their role will shift from presenter / gatekeeper of all knowledge to facilitator of learning. This is huge. Some teachers will have difficulties in accepting and even comprehending this role change. But the role change is essential to a successful 1:1 environment.

I also believe having a solid Learning Management platform is essential to a 1:1 environment. Students and Teachers need a place to communicate, collaborate and learn outside the walls of the classroom. A modern LMS that fosters the benefits of social networking, while allowing assignment submission / revision / editing / collaborating is key. A successful LMS implementation relies on not forcing change, but allowing teachers to "find out on their own" how such a tool can enhance their classroom and student learning.

So what becomes the next step?

I believe a district has to evaluate multiple devices. We simply cannot pigeon hole ourselves to a preferred device that may / may not currently exist in the district. Put the devices in the hands of teachers and students and gather feedback and data. What works? What doesn't work? What are the limitations of certain devices?

They also have to visit sites that have effectively, efficiently and cohesively implemented AND sustained a 1:1 initiative. Learning from others is one of our greatest tools. What were their successes? What were their mistakes? How do we learn from those mistakes? Our country is already filled with school districts that have refined this model. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, simply seek out the information and learn / share.

The district must also be prepared to PARTNER with a vendor that is willing to embrace the change in the school district. The vendor partner must bring new and innovative tools to the table. Tools and applications that improve and enhance the world of our teachers and students.

If we want to prepare our students to live in a global society - one that is ever changing - and want to them to succeed - no matter their destination post K-12 - a device (with the correct support, training and tools / apps) is becoming a must have. The debate is no longer should we / shouldn't we. The debate is what does it look like in my district and how do I make this happen.


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