David Warlick has really been asking so many thought provoking questions lately. Today’s question is, “Should we be going to a 1:1 arrangement in our schools?”
I’m in the process of trying to implement a Tablet PC 1:1 program in our 5th grade for next year. We’ve begun a conversation with my department, our Middle School head, our fifth grade team. This is a very interesting conversation, and we’re using a Wiki to create collaborative documents and discuss the project. The conversations are critical here, and the Cluetrain Manifesto is heavily influencing me on this. The stories we will tell that will or will not move our faculty to see the benefits of these Tablet PCs will be the critical piece of this puzzle in my mind.
But what is the point of a Laptop Program? Angus King, the former govenor of Maine, in his recent NCETC talk discussed why it was so important for Maine. Maine’s state economy was in the bottom third of all states, and they wanted to move up. The only way for a state to do that, was to have better educated citizens. Since it can be almost assured that our students will be using technology more and more as they grow older, King decided that by putting a laptop in the hands of every 7th grade teacher and student. Then he provided lots of appropriate technology coordinator support for those teachers and administrators and hoped that education in Maine would change for the better. Maine has found that with laptops and appropriate pedagogy, students are more engaged and active in classes, and they are developing 21st century skills like creativity and innovation in the context of their education. King’s hope is that the more highly educated and skilled students are, the more businesses will move to Maine to employee those educated citizens.
King also spoke about Tom Friedman’s, The World is Flat, and discussed students need 21st Century skills to compete in the global economy. There are more ideas in The World is Flat that I can even begin to discuss here, but needless to say, we live in a world where manufacturing and textile jobs in the US are leaving high rates. What King argued in his talk, was that the jobs that will be left in the US will be ones where we are being creative and are innovating. The amount of education for those jobs will be greater and greater, so we need to better educate as many students as possible through high school and beyond.
So Warlick asks about 1:1:
My initial (and too glib) answer was, “It isn’t a matter of ‘if’. It’s ‘when’.” That being said, it’s a task I wouldn’t wish on a friend. First of all, it won’t work in a 20th century classroom. The formula is much more complex and the questions are too deep to think that simply putting laptop or tablet PCs in the hands of your students will make them smarter, and better prepare them for their future — and these very smart people knew that already.
He’s right — putting a tablet pc in the hands of every student will not make them smarter. We need excellent teachers who are willing to take their best practices in teaching reading, writing and math and then go where they have gone before. We still need to teach reading, writing, and math well. I would argue that we need to teach them better than we have every before. Will Richardson would say that by using the Read/Write web, kids have to read to write, and this is a great motivator for student work.
So what are those 21st century skills? My two so far are innovation and creativity. They can be implemented without any technology with a great teacher in who is teaching reading, writing or math in a student centered, active classroom. So what does technology add?
It adds a platform to publish that we have never before seen – kids write 40% more when they are in a 1:1 environment. A place where we can run simulations of physical experiments. A place where they can look at primary source documents around the world. A place where students can interact with anyone around the world at any time. It allows quiet students to soar, and loud students to reflect. A tablet allows them to do this in their own handwriting. To highlight and circle a paper printed to OneNote or another digital notebook.
A laptop or tablet creates conversations. Students and teachers will undoubtedly come across content on the Internet that makes them uncomfortable. With access in classrooms, teachers will be much more in touch with the social practices of the Net Generation. Faculty will hopefully learn along with their students, and create appropriate ground rules for these new spaces. Creating community within new space.
Warlick’s final question is:
Perhaps one of the most important questions is, “What stories do you go out and tell your community to convince them that being ready for their future requires that children have convenient access to networked digital information?”
Very Cluetrain. So what are the stories? It’s about qualifying the points above. I thought of the printing press and the Internet: Literacy for all and Publishing for all. But what else? I’m thinking of interviewing folks at 1:1 school for these stories. What do you think?
Here are the questions — get Skype (I’m alex.ragone) and get ready for my skype calls:->
- What are two stories that influenced your school to go 1:1?
- What has been your best experience?
- What has been your worst?
- What would you recommend to school looking to go 1:1?