The school district’s 1:1 study team (sorry, I’ve been mislabeling our group as a committee) has wrapped for the season. I wrote some initial thoughts here and on my personal website. The Tech Director summed up the entire team’s findings in this blog post.
Since the school board received our information, I will now share my opinion. I want to start with a buzzword, or term, that frequently arose. Teachers on the team and at the state 1:1 Conference spoke of “twenty-first century skills” as a reason for joining the 1:1 movement, but no one could define them for me. They knew the skills were defined, but couldn’t tell me specifics. Not a big deal! I’d rather have them be good teachers than good theorists. After studying this idea on my own, mostly at p21, I feel that 1:1 programs are just one way to achieve twenty-first century skills. In fact, technology in general is one teensy piece of those skills. Information and communications technology is something everyone talks about, but with or without a 1:1 program, I want our students to know how to learn. If they know how to learn, then they can figure out technology of all sorts with or without a district-issued device.
The school board freed our group from choosing a 1:1 device. One device is not the purpose of 1:1 programs. Learning is the purpose of all 1:1 programs. If a kid knows how to learn, then that kid is set for the higher orders of analyzing and making good decisions. As the Tech Director said, if a kid becomes an expert at prezi but not at presentation skills, then the system has failed that kid. Looking at p21, the top of the list of 21st century skills includes the basics — “reading, writing, and arithmetic.” After the basics are mastered, students can then learn anything, including all the list items — with or without a personal device. I think of Bloom’s Taxonomy when I look at the 21st century skills and remain convicted to it. (You can look here for Bloom’s Taxonomy, but the diagram I remember was slightly different.)
The question: Will learning increase if every student is issued one device by the school district?
Answer: No, learning will increase only with the proper talent pool. A device is generally not necessary for the masses. A device can help, but it must be supported by a fantastic talent pool. Some SpEd kids would certainly learn and benefit more than the general school population.
More opinions: Will personal management skills increase with a laptop or other device? My answer remains the same: 1:1 is a school supply like a book or worksheet. Content must be managed whether it’s in hard or soft copy. You use a steno pad, I use my smart phone, someone else chooses an iPad. It’s an individual choice, and I do not think a school district should be in this space.
Additionally, I do not remember seeing or hearing about a good way for teachers to manage the student’s output for grading and tracking. Suppliers will need to figure this part out if they want to eventually rule the public world from their consumeristic, commercial offices.
Advice: Go back to the mission and shared vision. Say it like the Pledge of Allegiance daily before you head into the school building.
Thanks for reading. I welcome your polite comments.