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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rationale for One-to-One Technology Reposted

Many  think of the one-to-one classroom as a place where students are glued to the computers. Instead I see the one-to-one classroom as a learning environment where the computers are used to serve the overall blended learning program in ready, fluid ways. I've listed a number of reasons why I believe it's time for one-to-one below, yet I realize that funding and programming for one-to-one takes strategic planning and financial support.
  • Access: If students are able to bring a computer back and forth to school, the access to technology for all students increases. This gives everyone a chance to use technology as one way to maximize their learning. Right now, even though many students have technology at home, their access varies and this variation affects learning success. One-to-one is also one step towards bridging the achievement gap.
  • Research, Documentation, and Reflection: We use technology all the time as part of the learning. For example, when students recently built simple machine marble mazes, they used technology to inform and document the project. Teachers and students will use that documentation to inform reflection and later study. When access is limited, our ability to use technology in fluid ways as part of a project decreases.
  • Deeper Learning: New standards are calling for deeper work as well as the ability to utilize multimedia to inform and present that work. To build those deeper skills, students profit from having a tech device for research, writing, collaboration, share, reflection, assessment, and revision. With technology, this process becomes much more fluid, and this fluidity leads, in part, to depth.
  • Differentiation: Technology is a terrific tool for differentiation. Having ready access to technology allows the teacher to differentiate with greater success. Technology has multiple tools to assist student learning, and this is most evident with our students who struggle and our students who have advanced skill. In a differentiated classroom you might see a group working together using a collaborative online document to write a story or research report. You might also see individual students practicing a skill or reading about a topic of interest. Another group might be videotaping a play or presentation. In all cases, technology serves to both motivate and contribute to the targeted learning event.
  • Collaboration Near and Far: Technology is a great collaborative tool. Students can easily work together using collaborative platforms such as Google apps and WeVideo to write stories, make movies, research, and create slide shows. This collaboration can be done when students are together at school or when they are at their own homes. In this way, technology is able to bridge the geographic divide and lend itself to learning both in school and outside of school.
  • Blended Learning: Text books today are outdated due to the fact that information is constantly changing and a hard copy text book can’t keep up with those changes. Technology is today's textbooks. Online textbooks are updated readily and allow multiple ways to learn including virtual models and simulations, videos, games, drawing tools, research, coding, and more. Students learn and create with these tools. The blended curriculum depends on technology. Students are moving up into a world that blends technology with other mediums readily for all learning activities. Students need to practice learning in a blended environment in order be able to successfully function well in our blended learning/living culture.
  • Coaching: Technology allows teachers to readily coach students in school and at home daily. My tech savvy students/families email educators for help daily. In turn, teachers are able to quickly send links, information, and updates to support students’ learning. Similarly, during class, a teacher can access running records of student efforts as they study, research, and create. Those records help educators to coach effectively. Educators can also utilize technology to coach student multimedia composition with helpful editing and support tools.
  • Teaching: Trial and error, gaming, simulations, coding, and multiple apps teach students new skill. When there's ready access to technology, the teacher can first focus on teaching learning-to-learn skills that students can then apply with technology to learn more. The Place Value Movies Project is an example of this.
  • Problem Solving: Students are eager to solve problems. Access to technology helps students learn more since the technology is a window to the world of knowledge. Learning to use technology well takes away the dull drudgery of repetitive skill work and leads students to problem solving that helps them solve real-world problems. That work builds knowledge and skill, a thirst for contribution, and confidence with regard to what they're able to do for their world. Team Research WeVideo Example
  • STEAM: Technology informs and empowers STEAM work. This film demonstrates how one student used technology at home to create and manage a robot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXwAw8UHP2E This same student works via skype with a classmate and Minecraft to create games during the weekend as recreation. Students’ easy access to complex STEAM platforms is serving to develop their skill and ability in this area with strength.
  • Outdoor Education: Lightweight technology can be brought outside into the natural world to photograph, film, take notes, and inform outdoor education. For example, we're part of a river study. Last year students used technology to document and analyze data related to water quality. We could also use technology to analyze and report on our school ecosystem. I imagine young students with iPad minis on strings around their necks as they wander the woods taking pictures, researching plants and animals, and writing down reflections and observations. River Days Example
  • Voice: It is critical to develop good communication skills in today's world. The skills are also part of the Common Core Standards. Technology allows students to develop voice with regard to writing, speaking, and composition in ways that are easy to access, edit, present, and revise. Developing these skills with strength during the early years, prior to the self-consciousness of the teen years is advantageous. Example: http://teachwellnow.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-digital-story-platform-questions.html
  • Space and Materials: Good tech means we need less room for books and paper which leaves more room for collaborative work and creative materials. The technology serves as the dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, calculator, math resource book, and more. This one tool serves as the “guide/assistant on the side” to support greater three-dimensional learning rather than the old fashioned sit-at-your-desk-and-listen learning. (Yet, there's still room for listening and learning)
  • Global Education: There are many platforms and activities that can be done with tech including pen pals and mystery skype that are easily managed and accessed via technology. This is a movie we made for a Chinese class when one of our students was going to China for a month: http://teachwellnow.blogspot.com/2012/03/making-class-movie.html
  • Digital Citizenship: The best way to learn to be a good digital citizen is to have ready, guided access to technology. When you learn to use tools at a young age in a safe place to make mistakes and try out new tools, you are better prepared to navigate technology on your own later on. Guided, consistent tech use early on leads to more responsible technology use later.
  • Share: Technology serves to bring all the school learning experiences home to share with families. Here's an example of the share of the students' winter concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dhn0mW9_tE8
  • Efficiency and Computer Longevity: Sharing computers takes coordination and time. It also means that the computers are used a lot by multiple people.  Having one-to-one will alleviate the time for coordination and reduce use beyond one person.
  • Less Testing Stress: Sharing computers during testing time means that testing takes many, many days and interrupts the typical teaching/learning schedule. This disruption also means that specialist services are interrupted which challenges good teaching for students who need those services. If every child had a computer we won't have to stretch out the tests over such a long period of time since every child could take the tests during the same week.

One promising aspect of new tests is that the tests will hopefully inspire schools throughout the country to move to one-to-one tech access for every student as well as vigorous school infrastructures that support this initiative. That’s not to say the learning will only include tech, but instead that this technology infusion will invigorate engaging, blended learning design and implementation to elevate student learning and experience of school.

Note:
As we consider the role of one-to-one it is important to consider what deep learning looks like. These notes from Willingham's book provide good points for consideration: