So Sheryl and I have spent the last week here in Melbourne kicking off a four-month PLP project with 120 or so teachers from Victoria who are part of a pilot where all of their students will have netbooks in hand in the next few months. There seems to be a growing commitment here to put technology in the hands of kids (instead of spending huge sums on stuff that students can’t use outside of the classroom) and to thinking about how practice and pedagogy changes when that happens. There are a number of other initiatives that are attempting to reframe the way Victorian teachers think about teaching, namely something called E5 (pdf) that I’ll be giving some more attention to on the plane ride home but that at first blush has some interesting language that focuses more on learning than teaching. And that’s really what our work here has been about, trying to create opportunities for teachers to be learners first in both face to face and online communities, and in doing so, helping them see ways to implement technology in ways that go beyond just publishing.
All of us have been doing a lot of thinking and questioning around the idea of what it would be like if every 5th grade student and above had ubiquitous access in hand, and there’s no question that’s a huge shift. (When I made the slide at right for a part of our kickoff presentation, I was surprised at the reaction it got on Flickr.) If this is really where we hope to get, and I think it should be, the required shifts in educator practice and school culture are significant, as are the implications for professional development. It’s not just about if every student had a computer; it’s about if every teacher had a computer as well. (As opposed to if every teacher had a whiteboard.) Imagine if our students were being taught in systems where technology was just a natural part of the way we created and constructed and connected and learned, that it was how we do our business. Sure, things would be different. There would be distractions. (We’re having an online conversation about “attention literacy” already.) And there would be teachable moments. But don’t we have enough faith that we would learn our way out of those challenges (and others I haven’t mentioned) to come out the other side with a more relevant, effective experience for our kids? One that is more in tune with the way the world seems to be headed?
What I’ve liked about this trip is this sense that I’m getting, here at least, that some people are beginning to think about 1-1 in ways that scale, and that it’s not just about technology for technology’s sake but that there is some real, powerful potential in a world where every student AND every teacher has a computer and access to the sum of human knowledge we’re building online. Those leading this work may not feel all that comfortable with that vision in their own practice yet, but they seem more able to put that aside and and see things from a more long-range perspective. We’ll see how it plays out, but in that regard, at least, it’s been a pretty refreshing visit.
Jenny Ashby says
Hi Will, sounds like you have had an interesting time. I find it also very interesting to see how different governments around the world are tackling the changing world and the education system trying to catch up. I don’t believe teachers differ very much in their take up of ICT in the classroom from the US to Australia. There are pockets of brilliance while deserts still exist. However I believe things are beginning to snowball. The network of ICT people has increased dramatically and is continuing to grow. There used to be one or two people taking on new ICT initiatives now there are dozens.
e5 is an instructional model for teachers to use in their teaching. As many schools have been using the inquiry approach to “learning” I hope they don’t see e5 as another “learning model for students” Also it is not meant to be followed step by step in an order but the domains used at some time in the teachers instruction for the class. Hopefully it will provide a common language for teachers to enable conversations about teaching to flow.
My school is a P&D culture reference school and we have been involved in trialing the implementation of e5. How’s it going? Time is an issue. We hope this term will allow us to seriously implement e5 with our staff so we can give feedback to the department for next year when full implemenation is meant to happen.
Have a safe flight!
Will Richardson says
Thanks for the comment. Would love you to check in from time to time with an update. I agree that e5 is more of a teaching framework than an learning one. I’m still looking it over, but I really do like the language.
Donna Bills says
The 1:1 computing movement reminds me of my junior year in a small Texas high school in 1974. The new educational technologly of the day was the Texas Instruments SR-50A scientific calculator. Our chemistry class was the first to use this calculator instead of a slide rule. There was some discussion about whether or not we would learn to think as deeply about our calculations and there was a cost issue. They cost about $90 each. Of course, in those days, our parents bought them. If someone couldn’t afford one, it was quietly taken care of with a generous donation. ( We did understand the community thing, although most social networking took place at the local Dairy Queen.) In prespective, it makes the current discussion about students and computers a foregone conclusion. The winning argument then was that we needed to learn to use the tool we would be using when we went to college and beyond. By the way, I found my “antique” calculator in a drawer I cleaned out today. It isn’t too much larger than an iPhone. At the time it seemed just as magical.
Kay Bolerjack says
I have been involved in the initiative of technology integration for many years now. I find renewed optimism whenever I read of this type of philosophy towards the use of learning tools. Our school is very fortunate to be participating in year 2 of such a goal. I would love to network our students with those involved in this project in Australia; that would be very cool.
As I reflect on our first year of one to one computing in fifth grade, my role is as technology coach, supporting the tool as the classroom teacher facilitates the content. It was an amazing year. The students adapted quickly to using the tool for learning, even though it was their first time using technology with this frequency. We all learned as the year progressed. Similarly to society, some students excel/adapt quicker than others but all became experts in using the netbooks as a tool for learning. Students also knew who was the “go to guy’, when in need of assistance. Ultimately the tools allowed the students to take control of their learning and by doing so, could control when they needed to review information for clarity, investigate further and express/communicate throughout the learning process. As a life long learner these are all things I expect when I am in a learning environment. That is why I try to provide that to my students as well. As I learn more in this new learning environment; I am excited to see what this year brings.
Courtney Flores says
. . . And my county is simply concerned with getting an interactive whiteboard in every teacher’s classroom – with most not using it for more than a projection screen.
I love the 1-1 concept, but I am doubtful that this concept will make it to our public school system. I am more and more drawn to the idea of a charter school – one that would be focused on putting technology into the hands of the STUDENT rather than the teacher.
Thanks for doing what you are doing! I’m glad that there is a movement that favors students, learning, and technology!
paul shircliff says
Thanks for sharing your travels.
I am glad you mentioned “every teacher has a computer”. I think we need more discussions about every teacher having a laptop. We are supposed to be the leaders/directors in the classroom and this is difficult if we do not have the total access to the tools. Teachers need to make the technology seamless in their lives before they we can make it ubiquitous for the students. It is one of those major shifts in philosophy that needs a great deal of work (changing from an 18th century model to 21st century) . We are a school with 100% whiteboards and of course they are not all integrated. We all get new desktops this year to run them (mine was 7 years old, some were older), and the hope is that more will integrate better with updated hardware/software. Hopefully a laptop for all teachers will be our next phase, but that would not be for several years. Too many of our teachers are not ready for them. Can we get them ready or do we have to wait for new teachers?
I am lucky in that being one of the tech geeks at school I have a school laptop (though it is dying and I bought my own to replace it). I would not be able to integrate technology aspects in my lessons without it.
It all starts with sharing ideas.
Will Richardson says
Thanks for the comment. Your line “too many of our teachers are not ready for them” is one I hear a lot and one that, to be honest, makes me crazy. To me, that indicates a lack of vision and leadership. At my old school, we implemented teacher laptops on a voluntary basis and after a three year roll out we had 99% of our staff using them. It can be done, now, we just have to want it badly enough.
Jenny Ashby says
Gone are the days where you choose to use a laptop or not in Victoria (“not ready”) and so it should be. All teachers in Victorian government schools have been supplied with laptops through a very cheap leasing deal for 10 years now. No-one could exist without their laptop. More and more has to be done on our laptops like reports, department emails, school calendars and communication. No-one can now not be ready after a decade of use. Any teacher left behind in our system has had their head in the sand and just won’t be able to survive. All jobs are online and have to be applied for online. There is no choice today you have to be ready to survive and contribute.
Gary Franks says
I appreciate the importance of teachers being equipped with laptops. I do not understand how teachers cannot be “ready” for them and if so why anyone would let this belief change how they feel about getting laptops for teachers.
Longest Drive says
Anyone has an IBM or the like? This is so MAC-overkill.
Kobus van Wyk says
In the developing world we are still battling to get a computer in the hands of every teacher!
Will Richardson says
We’re “developing” right there with you. ;0)
Eric T. MacKnight says
As I have been teaching primarily in independent and international schools, I have experienced school environments where every student and teacher has a computer. Alas, this is no cure for lack of imagination and inspiration on the teacher’s part, nor is it a substitute for daily reading and nightly review by students.
I bought my first personal computer in 1984. I use my laptop for hours each day. I am all in favour of technology. But technology is not fundamental; Socrates did just fine without it, and we all should remember that.
Will Richardson says
Thanks for the comment Eric. You’re right that it’s no cure for lack of imagination or inspiration. While I admire Socrates, the reality of the world today suggests that technology is as fundamental to learning as books, paper, ink and the like have been for the last few hundred years. And as a parent, I demand both the wisdom of the Socratic method and the scale of the global conversation for my kids.
Eric T. MacKnight says
Yes, Socrates + inspiration + imagination + learning fundamentals (daily reading, nightly review) + the best tools: we need all of these.
I just wish there were someone as passionate and eloquent as you are about ‘Web 2.0’ who was driving the need for learning fundamentals like daily reading and nightly review, and for inspiration as the teacher’s first job.
Because without these, all the computers and networks in the world will achieve very little good. (In fact, powerful tools in the hands of fundamentally ignorant, uninformed people scare me.)
I’ve been reading Daniel Willingham’s “Why Don’t Students Like School?” and some of my comments overlap with my response to his explanations of what cognitive science tells us that can be helpful to teachers. He inspired me to produce a proposal for two entirely free, non-tech changes that would produce dramatic improvement in any school. Interested folk can have a look at it here: my modest proposal.
Computers, laptops, netbooks, internet enabled devices, cell phones, etc. It is all about the network.
The most important part of this equation is the teacher. There are 1 to 1 schools that do not show improvement. That is because the teachers have not been educated in using these tools properly.
Please make sure to invest in your teachers when you invest in technology. Otherwise, you will not get the results you are looking for.
You are absolutely right! If a school district is passionate about integrating technology in their classrooms, the teachers cannot be left out. Many of my colleagues are very interested in using technology to provide fresh/new learning opportunities for their students; unfortunately, they don’t even know what types of technologies are “out there” for them to use. Teachers MUST be trained on how, when, and why to use technology if we, and our students, are to get the most out of it.
I also agree that if ever classroom were able to give their student’s their own computer it would be a great way to learn new ideas while using technology!
Thanks for this post. It is certainly a live issue in higher education as well. I think getting a laptop in the hands of every teacher (or professor) is only part of the equation, though often a challenging one, due to budget issues. Once that is achieved, however, there is still a lot of work to be done in “thinking about how practice and pedagogy changes when that happens”.
This is something that educational/instructional technology professionals are going to have to spend a lot of time and effort on, and that work of engaging faculty and helping them reconsider their pedagogy and practice can and should begin now, even before ubiquitous student laptops are a reality, rather than on the day they walk into the classroom and see the world has completely changed. The E5 approach looks like it may be an interesting way to get at that important and necessary mental shift.
If anyone has good literature to share on success and failures of existing 1-1 programs, I would be very interested. Thanks!
Cathy Nelson says
Because of moves and such, I have worked in three different districts in SC over the last seven years and just about all teachers that I work(ed) with have laptops. The sad part is this is an issue of equity–many districts in my state (and probably the nation too)just do not have the funds to provide them to every teacher, much less every student in the 5th grade and above. Now if we could just shift the funding that goes into high stakes testing and textbooks into a 1:1 model, maybe this would impact teachers and their approaches, allowing for a shift in pedagogical practice. Having the “test” and the textbooks are just holding folks back.
Tammy Gillmore says
I am fortunate to have 1:1 this fall…so every student (in my classroom) will have a computer. Now if everyone had wireless access everywhere…just a dream!
Last week I had surgery, and during my overnight stay, my husband was able to access wireless while we were there…how nice!
This just reminded me, though, how much more we can use these tools when we can access the tools the computer allows us to utilize. Right?
Thanks for all your work in this area!
Simon Oldaker says
You’re visiting Norway in October, arn’t you, Will? Norway provides an interesting case as it has suddenly become a huge 1:1 experiment, with schools and whole districts jumping on the bandwagon.
There has been all kinds of interesting debate, not least some provacative student input. One of the real eye-openers for me lately has been how many pupils are ready to defend the 1:1 + WiFi environment, not because it promotes learning, but because it provides them with an alternative to school.
Eric T. MacKnight says
What I said above: without inspiration, imagination, and learning fundamentals, laptops will not be learning tools.
It’s a lot easier to hand out computers than it is to change the way we teach and learn, and merely handing them out won’t make the change happen.
Mark Walker says
I’ve been following this conversation Will about 1:1 access and like all innovations to hit classrooms its about how to embed things in learning.
I have been looking at change/improvement theory in schools and Richard Elmore, who Victoria use as a consultant, to improve its public education system on scale says that you have to work on 3 things at the same time: content, instruction and the relationship between the content, instruction and the students. That one has to look at the instructional task set for students as a key indicator to the possible outcome.
When I apply his theory of action to 1:1 computing for students then I want to look at the tasks we are setting students and how challenging they are before I comment on the successfulness of increasing access to technology.
If the majority of time we use technology is to record at the literal level, learning then 1:1 access is wasted.
Like Jenny Ashby I’m from Victoria, I worked on the development of the e5 instructional model on the principal consultative group. The first e in the model is for engagement and I think a critical element missing in lots of instruction and the use of 1:1 computing if embedded in rich content and challenging tasks that solve real world issues then I think we are on the right path.
My only comment on teachers and 1:1 access is how can you teach digital natives if you are not in the digtal world yourself.That challenge presented by Michael Furdyk some years ago spurred me on to create my blog: http://www.mwalker.com.au.
If we say the computer, online, laptop, or all about network… All they are about technology. the technology is product knowledge to learn and study about interesting of the future. the future is time infront of us. because we life in 3 time. Past-present-future time. or 1 minute after – 1 minute now – 1 minute before. or the extreme time, we life in : 1 second after – 1 second now – 1 second before. so, relation with the computer, cause computer have worked in count minute and second.the world to move very fast. so, if we cannot follow to move very fast, we will not up to date with this time.
the student have to operated computer with good until very good until expert.cause the future will very fastest.
the problem now, who teach about computer that standart is enought high…