I was quite eager to hear Patrick Larkin’s talk about integrating a 1:1 program. In my own experience, getting buy in with the community (staff, faculty, parents, and even students) can be a challenge. Patrick helped to coordinate a 1:1 iPad program at Burlington High School. Like other presenters, Patrick emphasized that before any roll out, you need to be able to answer the question:
Why? Why are you investing in iPads? Why do you want this tool in your classroom? This is not a project that you can simply throw money at – you need to have a plan. Patrick suggestion of what to do with end of year money… Professional Development. I would agree. It’s far too tempting for administrators to buy tools without any training
Before rolling out new technology, we also need to look at existing policies. Do we have policies that are archaic or outdated? For example, many schools have a ‘No cell phone’ policy. While cell phones are powerful computing devices, archaic policies often ban their use in the classroom and even go so far as collecting them during the day. Sometimes, you need to modify to reflect new needs. Schools should mirror the real world – we don’t have our cell phones confiscated when we walk into our office.
School Mission Statements often need to be modified to reflect responsible use of digital resources. Students have powerful tools at their finger tips to use, create, and modify digital resources. He quoted a great article by Will Richardson, “My Kids are Illiterate. Most Likely, Yours are Too.” The article highlights that too many “good” schools are neglecting to teach our children how to be responsible digital citizens – to create and share information. They are not learning the tools they need to succeed in the digital world as it exists today.
Patrick makes the solid argument that students need to stop living in two different world – the ‘real world’ and the ‘school world.’ Rather, schools need to move into the twenty-first century and teach our students the tools they need to be ‘literate’ in this day and age. However, for teachers to be able to do this, they need a lot of time and support to develop appropriate lesson plans and curriculum. I wholeheartedly agree!!
A meaningful pedagogical integration of technology should revolutionize the classroom. It should not look like a traditional paper-pencil room. It should be louder, less linear, more collaborative… It should allow students to create their own learning environment. As educators, we need to talk about: “What do Learning Environments Look Like?” There is likely no singular answer to that question.
Patrick argues that it’s not about ‘technology,’ rather it’s about ‘learning resources.’ This is not an individualized conversation we should be having – rather, it should be part of a larger conversation about engaging students and helping them to learn. We want our students excited and engaged.
The main crux of Patrick’s argument is the need for Professional Development. Educators need sustained staff development to help them implement new tools effectively. At least 40+ hours a year should be spent on professional development that is meaningful. This should not be a ‘drop in day’ event, rather a regular and even, gasp, mandatory, action for faculty and staff. They should be meaningful and organized with objective goals on a regular basis (even weekly).
I asked Patrick how to navigate restrictions put in place by schools, districts, and even state institutions (that will do things like restrict use of cell phones, social media, and more). He make the poignant statement that we should be legislating behavior not resources. If an educator is using a tool to interact inappropriately with a student, that is a behavioral problem not an issue with the tool. He recommended taking a look at CoSN for ideas on social media and technology policies.
Another key element of education in rolling out a new technology program is educating parents. Parents need to be informed of the benefits and the pitfalls. They also need to know how much screen time students need as well as the resources they will need to access at home. Parents learn from one another as well as from administrators. Educators should also respect and support parents’ desire for balance at home.
Another point that he made is: “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.” There are a lot of possibilities, but guidance is needed.
Additionally, new learning environments should be about creating and sharing. Creative learners are powerful learners. By sharing, we can engage others to make a stronger product, further our own knowledge, improve our understanding… learning is no longer an individual and singular experience.
Digital footprints and Digital Portfolios are our new resumes. Employers are no longer interested in what you say about yourself, they want to know what others are saying about you (Digital Footprint). They don’t care what you know, they want to know what how you use that knowledge. Application is key. We need to teach our students how to present themselves effectively in the new digital frontier.