In our classes at ASB, students use laptops and tablets to take and store notes, organize their tasks and school work, go on virtual field trips, do web-based research and assignments, take assessments, create outlines and write reports, compose poetry and pieces of fiction, solve science and math problems, create original artwork, produce animated presentations and movies, record class discussions, discuss solutions for real-world problems, participate in online simulations, use blogs, podcasts to share and discuss curricular topics, communicate on discussion forums or social networks or email or IM, follow breaking news, access data in real-time . . . Our teachers create web-based assignments, prepare visual presentations, use online resources to deliver the curriculum, grade and record assessments online, create and maintain their course web pages, communicate with their students using discussion forums or social networks . . . We are using technology tools to teach and learn in ways that we would not have imagined a few short years ago.
I’m often asked questions about the types of hardware and software that allows our students and teachers to collaborate, communicate, create, innovate, think, and learn. I find it important to clarify that irrespective of the technologies we use, there are three basic principles that we have embraced and that are working well for us.
Change is the only constant – and our students are continually teaching us this lesson. They are a different generation requiring different ways of teaching and engaging. They have changed as learners and don’t respond to traditional teaching/learning any more. They continually push us to change our ways of engaging them in their learning. This requires changing our pre-defined filters of looking at technology tools as add-ons or as another layer of top of everything we do in the classroom.
Technology Leadership – One of the paradigm shifts that we have collectively embraced is the use of models of transformative and distributed leadership, simultaneously building technology leadership teams from the top down and the bottom up.
Essential Conditions – The conditions defined by ISTE require more attention in a 1-to-1 program than in a desktop program. The intricacies may be slightly different in both programs but the impact is immediate and multiplied many times over in a 1-to-1 program. We weave the development of these conditions in our school’s technology plans.
I believe these principles are useful for schools to bear in mind as they develop their one-to-one learning programs. Too often we forget that it’s not about the technology, it’s about empowerment!