Exploring the ‘why’ behind 1-1 Learning

Over the past week or so, I’ve kept myself busy, among other things, reading Pamela Livingstone’s 1-1 LearningLaptop Programs that Work (link to the book on the Hawker Brownlow website) and thinking fairly carefully about how 1-1 is going to look for my school in 2012. As much as I enjoy reading this highly-detailed and frank account of the pitfalls and pinnacles of a 1-1 rollout, with each new page, alarm bells ringing in my head about a new piece of I’ll have to try, another conversation I’ll have to have with my school’s executive and another report I’ll have to put together in framing my advice.

Still, I find myself starting to answer some of the most fundamental questions around the use of technology in teaching and learning. Most importantly, I’m getting better at articulating why we should be using technology in the first place. Sounds ridiculous, I know – but unless we fully explore the WHY behind technology use and a 1-1 program, there’s every chance that such use will remain, at best, superficial, hit-and-miss and a “bag of tricks” to keep students busy.

Perhaps best of all, reading Livingstone’s work has given me a tidy arsenal of research weaponry to fire at many of the technology skeptics that point to limited correlation between the use of technology and the improvement of student outcomes. In my opinion, what’s the problem with such assertions? Well, both the technology and the outcomes – two of the most bandied-about concepts in education – are often defined as needed, by adherents to basic arguments on both sides of the debate (for instance, those for and against the use of Wikipedia for research). If we define the terms more accurately, however – say, outcomes in reference to high-stakes testing like the HSC and technology in reference to collaboration webs – well then, things start to get a little more interesting (answer: no such study has yet been done to show the effect of web-based collaboration on HSC scores). In other words, in the process of investigating the ‘why’ of technology use in the classroom, we need to be clear about the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’ It’s only in putting the three together that the research and how it is used in framing an argument becomes more meaningful.

I know there’s a million other questions in my head. For now, though, if I know why I’m doing what I’m doing (and how I’m going to do it), I’ll have a reason to turn up to work in 2011. That’s a start, isn’t it?

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About Michael

Cellist, singer/songwriter, school teacher, nerd, recent scooter enthusiast and failed philosopher.
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4 Responses to Exploring the ‘why’ behind 1-1 Learning

  1. Marita says:

    I think you are right, Michael, about being really clear with the why. You’ll need it for any naysayers, but it is good to clarify for self as well.
    HSC and collaboration is an interesting topic. At my school we believe that cooperation is powerful for HSC success but differ on when it is okay to start. I think it has to be a mindset – a habit – but others (who know their HSC stuff) insist it not start till after the trials.
    I’d really recommend From Fear to Facebook when you need a new book – Matt Levinson’s account of a 1 to 1 program. Lots of good, realistic stories of the shock of first contact between teachers and kids-with-laptops. Things that can be confronted in discussion before the event. Also on Hawker Brownlow. I can see you are enjoying the holidays!

    • Michael says:

      Hi Marita – so awesome to hear from you!

      I hope your holidays are going well. Thanks for your insights – it’s interesting to hear about the opposition of those “who know their HSC stuff.” Is cooperation after the trials too late? One would question what that’s teaching the kids for life. Still, it’s hard to argue with a solid tradition of Band 6s, isn’t it? 😉

      I’ve ordered Levinson’s book on your recommendation – thanks for the tip!

      Have you any big plans for 2011? Still at Kings?

      M

      • Marita says:

        Always big plans – and not changing schools!

        Thinking back over my comments on cooperation I am combining this with sharing and that is probably where the difference is with some. Our teachers do use cooperative techniques – groups etc. – but HSC is such a competitive thing. Some don’t want students to “give away” their ideas until after assessments are complete. In fact, many kids are sharing all the way because of social media habits, friendship & youthful altruism. We have had some self motivated kids arrange their own group tutorial sessions where top students teach others. This is so good for the tutor as well as the others.

        We have provided a ning environment where class groups, including teachers, can share and ask questions. It has had mixed success but we’ll reassess soon. (This is the thing that some think should start later rather than sooner.)

        Loving your ideas, Michael. Didn’t know you were an English teacher as well as the rest! Interested in your use of podcasts as resources.

        Hope you like the book – it is mercifully short, which is a bonus!

  2. Michael says:

    I reckon we’ll have to organise a visit at some point, Marita – it’s been too long since we’ve sat down and picked eachother’s brains 🙂

    All the best for the new year,

    M

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