I just finished reading Pamela Livingstone’s 1-1 Learning – Laptop 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:
- 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!
- 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…
- 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:
- 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
- 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!