Answers to 1:1 learning questions

It recently came to my attention that 1:1 learning (1 computing device for 1 student) is still a bit of a mystery for many educators.  While the idea of every student having a device like an iPad, laptop, or Chromebook could lead to a revolution in learning, the educators need to understand the concept and practice first.  Let the myths and (for some) hysteria of robots taking over slip away.  Teachers are and always will be essential as described in this post.  But teachers are also the crucial spark in the future of our country.  Here are the top 3 questions I get when discussing the topic with some answers and support for my fellow educators out there.

Question #1 –  If every student has a device when do they use it?

Answer:  It should be up to the teacher.  It is your classroom.  You design the learning activities and provide the tools to accomplish the desired outcomes.  It is your world.  But don’t rest on “what has worked in the past”.  Using new tools does get difficult.  Change is hard.  But remember the education you are providing is for the students future.  Technology is a part of our everyday lives and we can show learners how to use it appropriately and successfully to enhance themselves.  Also, having something new and cool in class helps students engage in what is being taught because it is modern and connected to their lives.

Question #2 –  How am I supposed to teach something I don’t know all that well?

Answer:  For many I think you know more about technology than you give yourself credit for, but for some there is some learning to do.  If you are looking to move your classroom by yourself, then I would suggest getting to know TPACK, SAMR, ISTE standards, Project RED, and then the device manufacturers very well.  They will get you information on the concepts of integrating technology in the classroom.  Personally Apple has done the most promising work in the classroom and that is why they have a high rate of use with the iPad and Mac OS X systems. Google and Microsoft are both strong in the education world, but they are second and third for a reason at this point.    If you are talking about operational difficulties (like use of PowerPoint, etc…), then I would suggest looking for online classes or opportunities (like GCF Learn) to educate yourself.  If you are looking to advance on the salary schedule or keep your state certification they may require the demonstration of continued education.  Why not do both at the same time?

If your district is moving towards 1:1 then demand the professional development to support it!  Digital curriculum, flipping the classroom, and all of the other stuff that is in the Ed. Tech world are great tools, but they need to be taught and supported.  Sometimes administrators forget about this part and need gentle reminders (I was one of those so forgive me).

Question #3 –  So you are asking me to do more?  When am I going to have the time?

Answer:  Use time to make time.  I was at a lecture once and someone put it to me this way.  20 years ago you didn’t have a cell phone.  If you had to make a call you drove to a location to do so, looked up the phone number, and talked to someone.  Now, you spend about 15 minutes a day for the first month learning how your cell phone works and use it on a regular basis for calls, texts, emails, calendars, social media, games, pictures, etc…  The same idea applies to your classroom.  If you take time to learn how to create online quizzes (I like Google Forms and Flubaroo for that), you can digitally issue, grade, and communicate with students without having to touch a single piece of paper.  Research without encyclopedias or a trip to the library.  Draw without necessarily getting all of the crayons and paper out.   Provide feedback instantly while the student remembers the topic instead of weeks later with a red pen graded paper (we have all been there).  Allow classroom collaboration online without the noise and distractions a confined verbal area creates.  It does take time to use technology well, but for many educators using technology and devices in the classroom has allowed for them to get time back!  Here is what PBS has to say on using technology and flipped learning.

Question #4 –  What is the right way to do it?

Answer:  It is up to you.  The first step is to get in and try.  Second step is to learn more than you know now.  Third step is to keep trying.  While I don’t confess to knowing everything I can say that by helping teachers for the past 10 years teachers who allow their students to use technology often see benefits they had never before imagined.  There have been failures, but most of those came from poor planning (district or teacher) or abandonment of the process because it became difficult.  If you have the opportunity to move into a 1:1 classroom I encourage you to take that chance.  Don’t be afraid to look “dumb” in front of your students.  Do you think you ever ask students to do something that they are afraid to look “dumb” doing?  This is the year.  Take the risk.  And talk to others that have done it online (Google+, Pintrest, Edmodo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc…)    We are out there to help each other.

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