Thursday, 17 March 2011

it started with a tweet #2

The reply to my previous blog post on it started with a tweet

I agree that personal mobile devices are the way of the future, be they tablets, smart phones or what ever the future brings us. The Ipad is a classic example of how a new technology can change the way people use technology. Personal devices allow us to blur the lines between work & play. We know how powerful it is to put a laptop in the hands of every teacher in the country. As professionals we take our laptops home at the end of the day, we’re reading and accessing information informing ourselves and developing our Knowledge base.

Its my opinion that too many schools concentrate on the hardware and keeping the price as low as possible when considering any kind of student programme. Thinking, that simply putting these devices in their students hands will dramatically improve their engagement levels etc.. and while this can be true… it is only 1 (and probably the smallest part of the puzzle). First and foremost, there needs to be teaching practice which supports use of the technology to achieve real and measureable results. One of my colleagues, Graham P, who I work with has the following to say about 1:1 programmes (or would apply to 2:1 as well). I’ve cut and paste this from one of his papers:

ICT skills acquisition:

With the introduction of such an initiative the ICT knowledge and skills of the students and staff involved increases immensely – but needs to be supported.  Whilst the students will adapt quickly to their new learning catalyst, the staff learning curve is typically a little slower.

Important in any introduction of such an initiative is to provide for the staff professional development.  Not only do professional development programmes attend to the technical skills needed to cope with new ways of teaching and learning, but also they support the important paradigm shift necessary if the programmes are going to be effective. 

The ICT capabilities of all involved will increase significantly – again, providing a competitive advantage for those involved.

Much of the pedagogical impact of such a programme is lost if the portable programme does not enable the teaching and learning process to change –if we continue to do what we have always done – just with new tools…. We will still get what we have always got!

I think your idea of 2:1 is good, but why limit it to this??? If your network will support it, why not 1:1? Is the answer Money?? Well, there are 3 funding possibilities:

1 student pays – consumer finance, purchase outright

2 school pays – using funding it would have put toward infrastructure anyway, or grant applications.

3 combination of student/school funding - self-explanatory

A lot of schools I talk to think that it is unreasonable to ask their parents to pay for a laptop, so, yes, they should be able to bring one from home, but it needs to meet the basic system requirements needed to perform the tasks demanded. A standardised operating environment in any large network is the ideal, but I appreciate schools cannot “demand” or “force” students into anything. At the same time, how many kids already have playstations, ipods, expensive bikes and other costly toys of one kind or another – sure – not everyone could afford an ipad – but most parents would seriously consider it if they thought it would dramatically improve their kids ability to succeed academically and into the future.. All the better if they can finance or split the cost with the school. Why not have all 3 funding options operating – use the best method on a case by case basis?...

Instead of asking – whats the price – the question needs to be – how do we enable equality & sustainability… so.. how can we support the teachers to adapt their teaching practice to use the technology effectively. How will we assess the results of this new teaching practice? What happens if someone cannot afford to participate? What if their device breaks? How will the school support those students who don’t have an internet connection at home, how can learning continue in the face of these problems. Too often, the lowest price option, is low because there is all care, but no responsibility, no support, no resources because there is no regard for the bigger picture which is not just the sale of a smart phone, but the support of a young persons education, their preparation for a future in a digital world.

Anyway.. I could go on for hours… this is very much a passion for me. I Account Manage a few schools doing 1:1 programmes, they are doing really well, and I want to share their success with other schools, I want to help schools go 1:1 and help them avoid the painful lessons that have already been learned at other sites. I really believe that personal devices in students hands is the way to go. I only need to look as far as myself. I know that having my laptop/iphone in my hands 12+ hours a day means im reading more, im collaborating, im working and playing simultaneously (look at what im doing right now) – it doesn’t stop when I leave the office. This is all adding to my knowledge base. I am 100% sure that every student should also have the same opportunity to learn anywhere, anytime..

I know there are lots of other considerations, and we have a duty of care to protect our youth from the dangers that lurk out beyond the firewall, but it can be done, its really not that hard to do.. it just takes a commitment to change for the best.

Anyway, that’s my 10cents worth… what do you think : ) And please don’t think im trying to “sell” you anything = I really am very passionate about it – I feel like I have such good insight into how well it can work, but im not entirely sure I know how to best spread the message?? I’d love your feedback .

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