10 things 'a school' can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms

This is the third post in a series. You may wish to read the first and second posts concerned with what a teacher and faculty can do in preparation for 1:1 too.

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 Models of continuous learning rather than outdated one-off training programs are needed.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.

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DISCLAIMER

The views expressed at this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

6 Comments

  1. Troy:

    A nice progression, the whole school approach is going to influence teachers who may be 50/50, at the edge of could happen with learning in their class.
    High expectations are so important, the clear and open communication with the community is the key to creating a new learning culture at any school.

  2. Wow Great Work ! Darcy, just creating a link from our school
    RBSCsupport4ict to this. Some very poignant observations about the state of play! In our classrooms and staffrooms. Umm!
    Denise

  3. Andrew Fitzsimons:

    A good list; our school has quite a few of those underway!

    One additional: have “…ability to engage with digital learning …………..” or similar in every merit selection job description. DET as a system needs to recognise the fundamental importance of such competence and rapidly promote those who have the inclination and and skills.

    Some of our most competent have tended to hide their interest for fear of putting others off side; and/or practiced such in digital areas away from their teaching lives.

    As Darcy suggests, it is vital that school leaders model the intrinsic learning challenges these laptops represent for those of us in the second half of our professional lives.

  4. Quality teaching is all that really matters in the long run.

    It is the job of each teacher to ensure that their teaching matches the learning needs of Year 9 students.
    Your numbers 4 and 7 are the most important.
    Hopefully the TSOs will manage some of the “techy” issues.

    I would recommend that each HT (with PLN assistance) creates a series of activities for teachers to practice (not play) with, to meet the subject learning needs of Year 9 with laptops for learning in Term 3.

    How thrilling it is finally for teachers to have laptops to enhance their teaching.

  5. Karen Yager:

    Appreciate the list Darcy! Teachers are concerned about the L4L because of the absence of training in the software and the fast turnaround. Research tells us that teachers should at least be cognizant of the potential of the software before they feel confident about using laptops as integral tools in the classroom. We are attempting to address this issue in the short term by developing a list of possible ways that the laptops and the software can be used in each KLA.

    I also think that the first essential step is for a school to evaluate where they are at the beginning of the journey and then plan for where they want to be. Supposition and reflection then become a positve process, and any issues are dealt with upfront.

  6. Peter Holmes:

    Hey Darcy. It looks like you’re on track for the rollout. Well done! From your top 10 points, I’d emphasise the importance of numbers 5, 6 and 9. Having clear, communicated procedures to answer everyone’s million and one questions is vital. People tend to worry about breakages, theft, misuse of the machines, etc. Seriously consider designing an agreement that is signed by the students and parents before the machines go home. Not only does it mitigate most of the potential accidents, but it also builds a sense that the laptops will be valued. I can send you an agreement I’ve used if you like. If the computers are valued, research in the US and UK indicates that there will be very few incidents to deal with. If, on the other hand, the machines are simply handed out without appropriate discussion, you could expect a mountain of trouble. In other countries with 1 to 1 programs, very few children forget to charge their machine overnight, as they don’t want to be the one without a working computer at school. Kids who once used their bags as weapons or seats, change their behaviour for the same reason. But this culture doesn’t occur by accident; it takes sustained communication with parents and students. And then there’s the teachers. Don’t worry too much about funding for training. Just about all of the training should occur in-school or at home. Teachers need to know that they can basically do anything they’re already doing in an electronic way if they wish. The benefit obviously is that student engagement goes through the roof when kids can do their droll school tasks on computer, as well as doing the fun stuff like creating podcasts and movies, and designing web pages and the like. In all of your communications with teachers, encourage them to experiment with the software, and promise that regular workshops focusing on the integration of the laptops into curriculum, will be made available. But above all else, the number one thing to do is quite simply, get excited. Talk it up. Talk about the things that need to be done and how to avoid problems, but don’t forget to get people thinking about what a wonderful opportunity this really is. Brush aside the critics, eternal pessimists and whingers. 1 to 1 is going to turn your world upside down, but what an adventure it’ll be. You’ll think differently about everything you do and the kids will respect and love you for it. They want to see teachers having a go and taking risks. Enormous respect is earned this way. Admit you don’t know all the answers because you don’t know all of the issues yet, but nothing is going to be an insurmountable problem. When kids see the staff’s excitement, they feed off that, and they also build the notion of valuing the machine. Conversely, cynical adult minds will tell the kids these machines are a waste of time and guess what will probably happen to the laptops? Kids valuing their computer is the critical issue. Best of luck! I wish the same thing was happening in primary schools.

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