Throwing Down The 1-1 Gauntlet?

I just finished reading Pamela Livingstone’s 1-1 LearningLaptop Programs that Work (see earlier post for background info) and have begun to grapple with the enormity of what my colleagues and I aim to achieve for my school over the next few years. In addition to the need to articulate WHY we should go 1-1, it’s hard to escape a few simple truths involved in doing so:

  1. Any 1-1 program is only going to get bigger – not smaller. Although we might get on top of the administration/management side of issuing, imaging, repairing, monitoring and so on, the prevalence of digital devices challenges us to re-think the curriculum on a continual basis – no easy task!
  2. 1-1 is about whole-school investment and a whole-school approach. It’s only through the last five years of my technology leadership – with the support of my executive and many teachers and with the assistance of mentors like Cathy Smith and Judy O’Connell – that I’ve managed to shift us from seeing technology as a curriculum tack-on to a force for mainstream curriculum reform. Getting the whole school to own the potential successes (not to mention failures) of a 1-1 program will be a challenge…
  3. For me, success with a 1-1 program is all about co-constructivist learning: engaging with kids digitally, via the internet thus creating less of a reliance on traditional face-to-face didactic teacher-driven lessons. Unless we link it all back to philosophy, how can we really be sure we’re singing from the same hymn sheet?

By far though, the biggest challenge – as my system leader Greg Whitby reminds me –is relevancy.

How can we be sure that surmounting all of the major managerial challenges of issuing hundreds of devices to students is ultimately relevant to the twenty-first century? Sounds stupid – but maybe more of us need to be aware that:

  1. mobile phones are getting much more sophisticated and will therefore continue to make traditional laptop use less relevant as they become capable of so much more; and
  2. cloud computing and operating systems like Chrome OS have already shown that dependency on one device is decreasing as more data moves into the cloud and documents, calendars, learning networks, etc. move with you wherever you go – therefore the use of a particular device/operating system/piece of software has become less relevant.

The take-home message? Assumptions like this one by Livingstone can be dangerous:

The world our students are entering demands instant access to information, higher-order thinking skills and the ability to collaborate over distance. 1-1 provides them all – in spades.

Time and again, we see that unless  we articulate (a) the philosophy at the core of our values as educators; (b) the vast, open space of the digital world and; (c) the importance of sharing and building on our knowledge and that of those around us, we will never be certain that technology is the panacea many of us still maintain it is.

The biggest challenges are conceptual and the battleground – yet to be littered with the spoils of war – remains in the mind!

About Michael

Cellist, singer/songwriter, school teacher, nerd, recent scooter enthusiast and failed philosopher.
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3 Responses to Throwing Down The 1-1 Gauntlet?

  1. Leeanne Biordi says:

    Hi Michael,
    It is extremely refreshing to read your posts. I agree with you – philosophy is paramount and relevancy. I think the relevancy point is a trickier one given that many teachers are indeed delivering relevant curricula ie) that it is relevant to themselves / what they know and how they themselves learned ala the industrial narrative. So… the task at hand is not (in my mind) just to establish philosophy but to become reflective practioners whom engage in constant reflection and dialogue with our peers and to engage in action research continually. The difficulty is trying to sway the minds of the staid and comfortable and to change what relevance is… I agree with you that it is conceptual. I guess like minded people seek one another out so hopefully you won’t mind me adding to your blog!
    PS – Can’t say you are a failed philosopher either tisk tisk – lifelong leaners aren’t there yet!! That is the notion of a narrative model – you seem more contemporary in your thinking so may have to rethink that one grasshopper!!

    • Michael says:


      What an insightful and thought-provoking comment! I agree that relevancy is a loaded term and one that is both highly subjective and contextual to say the very least. You’re also right that philosophy doesn’t really go far enough, but without it, reflective practice seems, to my thinking, to lack a critical reference point – and this is the bane of many teachers, both good and bad.

      I really like your idea that the challenge is essentially about renaming and justifying relevance in contrast to what is accepted by the status quo. It’s interesting to think that two teachers might share the same (or similar) education philosophy yet have completely different ideas (more or less relevant as is the case) on how it is lived out!

      Thanks again and really looking forward to more dialogue with you (do you have a blog I can follow?)! 🙂


      • Leeanne Biordi says:

        Hey Michael,
        No I don’t blog I just seek the good ones out! Nice though we are in the same system so feel free to look me up in the school email address book. I agree with you that the reference point must be philosophy and also that reflective practitioners must continually refer back, refine and challenge discourses. One of the biggest barriers is that many of our contemporaries percieve learners as empty vessels. Have a look at Hart’s Participation Model which has a ladder related to children’s voice. I have used this model as a reference point to open up dialogue about my own and my colleagues differences in implementation of what can even be a shared philosophy in the learning space. We are at the other end of the spectrum to yourself in High School as we are in Kindergarten. I also agree that the digital revolution must be evidenced in all KLA’s at all times of the day – we are working on this in our space opting for new laptops rather than IWB’s as Kinder invariably got the hand me downs. Again, we have tried to interrupt dominant discourses by requesting and receiving new computers instead. Baby steps… Can you imagine how much forward and contemporary thinking had to occur for this small yet monumental mind shift??!! Yay! First we need to establish children as capable learners then allow them voice. Have a looks at Hart and let me know what you think!!

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