10 things ‘a school’ can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms:
1. Funding- expectations of a champagne experience from a beer budget tend to fizzle when the reality sets in. The state is providing machines and some training/support but it will not be enough. What resources can be deployed by the school? How much can the photocopying/textbook budget be scaled back? What needs to be done to the infrastructure of the school and classrooms? We are storing ‘spare’ machines, placing our TSO in the library and cutting a hole in the wall to create a servery. Most of the budget allocation should go to training staff and ongoing teacher professional learning rather than ‘nuts and bolts’ stuff. PLNs are very inexpensive options.
2. Support for staff to develop professionally – needs to be innovative, especially in the creation of time and space to learn. Using Year 10 -12 examination time (by hiring invigilators) allows staff to have extra hours throughout the year. See earlier posts in this series (faculty/teacher posts). Models of continuous learning rather than outdated one-off training programs are needed. Mostly, it is about a changed mindset.
3. Create a small motivated team to do some ‘thinking’ and ‘proposing’ – to the executive and whole staff. The team could include the librarian, a classroom teacher and member of the senior executive as well as the ‘tech brains’ at the school. This is for the committed and able, not a meeting kind of thing, more an ongoing what does our school need and where the hell is the information we need.
4. High expectations of, and from, the school leadership – is absolutely essential. If leaders can’t turn on the laptop, engage in meaningful conversation about the impact of digital technologies on pedagogy and most importantly, show a willingness to learn, fail and smile (most of the time) through the challenge, it is unlikely their troops will buy into the rhetoric. Talking the talk and walking the cliche is important.
5. Procedures and protocols and making it work - the devil is in the detail and it is essential that the practical realities of ubiquitous laptops usage is given a high priority. However, the temptation will be to focus on this rather than pedagogy. What happens when it rains and not all students have shelter at our school? What do I do if my laptop is broken or stolen? What are the rules? Mum says…but the school wont…what do I do? Where can I find the policies, procedures and protocols? In the students’ school diary, website, MOODLE? Some brainstorming sessions with students, staff and parents will raise a host of unanswered questions. Find the answers!
6. Keeping students in the loop- and explaining the expectations, challenges and opportunities the L4L rollout will provide. Have the Student Representative Council (SRC) provide leadership and be part of the formal and informal dialogue. Have staff formally and informally discuss L4L and their lessons. Distribute ideas, queries, enthusiasms and fears. Teach them about the importance of posture and raise awareness about ergonomics and best practice. All students must be able to and often access their email and MOODLE accounts. Make it worth their while to access these accounts!
7. Advocate appropriate models of pedagogy- and encourage staff to think differently about what an effective lesson format might be. Provide examples and dynamic presentations that model effective learning experiences, especially focus on the practicalities of the the beginning and end of lessons. The school must insist that an appropriate range of pedagogies are employed. PLE - the concept of a ‘Personal Learning Environment’ is fundamental to having the entire school community understand the paradigm shift that ubiquitous laptop usage (with good wireless) can facilitate. This video makes it understandable.
8. LMS - MOODLE has been in place for 12 months is important at our school, especially as we are waiting for the DET Learning Tools to be released. The DET blogging platform is in beta and eBackpack is on the horizon but our needs will not be met by these in the immediate future. The school must ensure students and staff have access and can use our systems.
9. Keep the parents & the community informed – of the school’s vision. Help them understand Web 2.0, cybersafety, L4L and digital technologies using sites like Click. Communicate using these technologies. Ask what can parents do to support? Keep the P&C updated and in the loop. Talk about practical and theoretical issues. How can my son or daughter ensure their posture is good when using their machine? What happens if…?
10. Reflection - the continuous cycle that incorporates and acts on this reflection permits failure and allows for renewal. Innovation and risk-taking are encouraged and stagnancy resisted at all costs. Everyone must be free to be critical, positive criticism with suggestions for the future, are what we all need.
There’s obviously so much more…
Once again, thanks to my PLN for their contribution via email and Twitter. The slideshow below gives you a few seconds to read each tweet.
Here’s the cream of the 100s of replies from you folks for a 4 minute - ‘best of 1: 1 suggestions’ - video.