|Why, How... and then What?|
Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation
In a month that ended with an enlightened audience of educational leaders attending our very successful first series of 1-to-1 Leadership Summit and an unenlightened journalist highlighting how significant proper preparation and planning are to a successful 1-to-1 initiative, I am reminded of the need for us to keep "lifting the bar."
Well, we may often wish to celebrate the success and simple metrics of the phenomenal worldwide growth of 1-to-1, but whoa betide anyone who thinks the hard part is over!
Lifting the bar applies to all of us. From the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation's perspective, we realized that we had to change our focus if we were to have meaningful impact around the world. The original evangelism of the 1990s was broadly focused, and included all participants, and on reflection, did not pay enough attention to educational leadership. Now, with our vision of "that's what learning could be," we are embracing school and district leadership and seeking to build up networks, resources, and strategies that assist them in successfully implementing 1-to-1 initiatives. The New York Times article only strengthens our case for rigor in this process. No matter how often we might hear protestations to the contrary, too many still think it is about the laptop. Keep it simple. It's "Why, How... and then What?"
Why do you think it is important that every child should have access to their own personal portable computer; how are you going to make that happen... and then what? Every day and every summit or conference we pay continual homage to those who have blazed the trail before us; but the trail still has much to cut away, before everyone will follow.
We must lift our expectations of what learning laptops make possible; we must lift our expectations of what we expect of our educators, and we must stop underestimating what students can do when equipped with the medium of their time!
Don't forget to mark your calendar while there's still time - Bruce Dixon will be one featured K-12 speakers at EDUCOMM 2007 conference in Anaheim, CA on June 19-21, 2007. Bruce's talk, "Planning, Funding, and Sustaining Strategies for Successful 1-to-1 Computing" will be one of many great talks. Also included on the program are keynotes by Alan Kay and David Pogue; and featured K-12 talks by Gary Stager, Hall Davidson, Wesley Fryer, and Martin Levins (all the way from Armidale, Australia). Included in your EDUCOMM 2007 participation is a pass to the INFOCOMM exhibit hall - the world's largest A/V trade show. More information on EDUCOMM is available at http://educomm.educatorsportal.com
|Challenging Leadership to Create Impact - Raleigh, NC|
AALF Regional Leadership Summit - Raleigh, NC
May 14, 2007: Ron Canuel, director general of the Eastern Townships School Board (ETSB) in Magog, Quebec helped set the tone early for the first summit of the week. Stressing the need for high-level district leadership to ensure success and sustainability as the bedrock of a 1-to-1 deployment, Ron delved into his work at ETSB.
Two very salient points Ron discussed were the need institute a systemic 1-to-1 deployment to minimize the risk of localized knowledge and inequity. If a 1-to-1 deployment is localized within a school district, it risks losing its collective, institutional knowledge with staff or administrator turnover. District-wide deployments, however, maintain an institutional knowledge and better allow transfer between schools within the district.
Ron also stressed that while pilot projects are good as learning ventures on how to improve upon a larger deployment, they should not be used as assessments of 1-to-1. As a district leader, the superintendent, assistant superintendent, or technology director must understand the power 1-to-1 learning enables in the classroom and that a pilot should help tweak the full-scale deployment. Otherwise, there is the risk like so many other pilot projects that the 1-to-1 deployment will run, stop, be evaluated, and then never be heard from again.
Following Ron, Bruce Dixon spoke of the challenges that district leaders face throughout a 1-to-1 deployment. As a thought-provoker, he couldn't have done a better job, challenging district leaders themselves to ask tough questions of themselves and their district in making a better learning environment for children. For example, in one piece, he looked at what other countries, such as Singapore, have done in terms of putting forth a 21st century learning environment for children. Incorporated in their design is the voice of students, as ultimate end-users, of the system.
Joining Ron in Raleigh was Dale Mackenzie, his colleague from ETSB. As the IT Pedagogical Consultant for ETSB, it is Dale's responsibility to help teachers effectively integrate laptops into their curriculum. Using collaboration as a theme of his presentation, Dale presented a variety of ways educators across levels and schools in ETSB have used laptops in their pedagogy. One particular example was a collaborative approach to writing, allowing students to work together to prepare segments of a topic and then educate their fellow group mates on their learning.
In the question-and-answer session at the end of the day, Ron and Dale were joined by Gary Stager, a presenter at the AALF Summits all week, on a panel moderated by Bruce Dixon. The audience started the period off with the comment, "Why is technology an add-on cost? Why can't we get money to make the 1-to-1 deployment right? We need the support from high levels to make it work right." Summing up much of what Bruce had talked about earlier, this comment struck a chord with many as they struggled in their locale to reframe 1-to-1 as a learning, not a technology - and hence, a money - issue.
Gary helped provide some insight on another question about getting teachers onboard by talking about working with those who are willing and being aware of ageism. By that he meant a good constructivist teacher is a good teacher by nature, regardless of how old one is or whether they grew up with a computer or not.
Concluding the day was a remark by one participant that summed up the nature of 1-to-1 as an environment changer: "Professional development is important, but so is peer learning. I had to take time to play... and I had to admit that I didn't know everything."
We thank all of the North Carolina participants and especially our speakers: Ron Canuel, Dale Mackenzie, Gary Stager, and Bruce Dixon.
|Students Empowered for Change - Wichita, KS|
|AALF Regional Leadership Summit - Wichita, KS
May 16, 2007: The Wichita Summit started off with a video from Bette Manchester, director of special projects for the Maine Department of Education and one of the architects of Maine's statewide 1-to-1 program for 7th and 8th graders. Her video, focusing in on the work of students around the state was a great segue into a summit packed with the power students unleash when empowered with a laptop.
With Bette's extensive experience with 1-to-1 in Maine, it was natural that she covered many of the issues of the day, including the "success" of Maine's program. She was explicit when she said, from the start of the program, results would not be measured by test scores. An important distinction, in light of the work showcased in her video. Students engaged in meaningful tasks and excited about their learning opportunities are the real results of Maine's 1-to-1 initiative. However, in Maine's much-studied and research deployment
, they soon plan to release research that in fact does help further the cause of 1-to-1 along a variety of metrics.
Providing a real treat in what students can accomplish, Carolyn Thompson from the McGehee School
in New Orleans, Louisiana discussed her development as a "1-to-1 laptop teacher." From her perspective, the laptops provide entree to the world, opportunities for collaboration, outlets for expression and creativity, and a method of communication. These descriptions of the power laptops provide students was on full display in terms of what students have done at the McGehee School in the post-Katrina New Orleans environment.
McGehee School Gates, post-Katrina
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, McGehee students were dispersed and there was a serious communication issue. However, with the help of blogs, students, teachers, and administrators were able to stay in touch as well as communicate their experiences and thoughts about what happened. As well, using Google Earth, they were able to see remotely that the McGehee School suffered little damage, due to its location. After reopening on 24 October 2005, the challenge became, "What do we teach and how?" As a government and history teacher, Carolyn worked on The Hawk's Eye View, which shared stories, commonalities, differences, and helped process the information of student, but then also collected oral history stories of New Orleans residents, and then contextualized the stories, working in a perspective on envisioning a new city.
However, that is not the end. Now, Students of the Storm, a student group has stated: "Our commitmentto the city is steadfast. We have gutted houses in destroyed neighborhoods, raised money for Katrina victims, and volunteered at local schools. ...We have formed a student group called Students of the Storm (SOS)
, which grew out of our desire to take our efforts a step further. Applying our knowledge and understanding of U.S. Government to the problems facing the city, we have formed an organization of committed citizens. ...Our hope is to gain support for our city and its people, so that we may once again prosper as we did before the greatest natural disaster to ever have hit United States." What the students did was organize themselves to learn and investigate. They lobbied in Washington, and have taken it the next step, with Youth Acting for Tomorrow
, a coalition of New Orleans schools dedicated to information, advocacy, and action.
Right along with Carolyn was Gary Stager's equally compelling presention, "Ten Things to do with a Laptop" and the powerful examples he provided of students creating their learning environments. Included as such is the student citizenship in 2004 of a Minneapolis boy that was interested in understanding and providing information on the presidential campaign. As such, he took it upon himself to go to citizens and political leaders of all persuasions to hear what they had to say and document and broadcast it for the rest of the world. Also discussed was an incarcerated youth in Maine who had a rekindled love for learning once empowered with a constructivist environment. He found learning fun, engaging, and interesting as he explored personally relevant questions.
Moreover, Gary stated that education needs to take a humane and expansive view of the laptop. He said, "If the dominant metaphor is to "look stuff up" then that is exactly what will happen. However, if educators challenge students with more interesting opportunities, then the results will be equivalent of the challenge." As Carolyn could attest, this is very true.
Again, we would like to thank the participants in Kansas, as well as our speaking lineup: Bette Manchester, Carolyn Thompson, Gary Stager, and Bruce Dixon.
|"A Demand for Challenge" - Chicago, IL
AALF Regional Leadership Summit - Chicago, IL
May 18, 2007:
According to Robert DuClos, director of Learning Technology Centers 6 South in Illinois, he "...le[ft] this summit with the reminder that kids have an unwavering ability to learn in different ways, in fact they are demanding us to challenge them." Building on the success of the two summits earlier in the week, AALF finished its series of five regional summits with a large crowd in downtown Chicago. Represented were district and school leadership, as well as participants in the state of Illinois' Technology Immersion Pilot Project
. AALF also topped off its program with another set of outstanding speakers: Alice Owen from Irving Independent School District, Mike Muir from the Maine Center for Meaningful Engaged Learning
, Pamela Livingston, author of 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs that Work
, Adam Smith, AALF board secretary and CEO of SchoolKiT, and of course, Gary Stager and Bruce Dixon.
As Alice got the day started by discussing leadership and vision, talking about how in Irving Independent School District
(ISD), as a large suburban district with a very diverse population has had to be flexible and responsive to the various 1-to-1 needs as any district does. By focusing on real-world rationale to implement 1-to-1, Alice discussed how Irving made it possible, and the resources needed to accomplish the task.
As a colleague of Bette Manchester's in Maine, Mike stepped back from examples of contemporary learning and focused on the how of implementing contemporary learning. According to him, a few things are necessary - there needs to be a focus on learning with the laptops. They cannot be used solely for technology's sake, but as a way to provide outlet for student expression. Moreover, educators have to be willing to reposition themselves to teach in the students' world to be able to prepare them for the future. And going along with what Gary spoke about at all three venues, contemporary learning must take the students beyond direct instruction. It has to be engaging and relevant to the student for it to have an impact. Finally, Mike stressed the need to not teach to the test and explore new media as ways of enhancing a teacher's curriculum and instruction.
In addition to our guest commentary from Gary, we were joined in Chicago by Pamela Livingston, author of 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs that Work
. Reprising her work in March in California, Pamela joined us to help discuss and identify some of the components most needed and attainable by district and school leaders to make a 1-to-1 program succeed. Using her extensive research with 1-to-1 schools around the U.S., she helped reinforce themes consistent through the summits - vision, planning, partnerships, and a mission.
In North Carolina and Kansas, we were fortunate to have Bruce Dixon, AALF president, discuss the vital role of school principals in a 1-to-1 deployment. Honing in on needs such as learner diversity, pedagogical innovation, assessment, and curriculum, Bruce laid the groundwork and outlined the challenges for a principal to effectively manage vision and day-to-day realities of 1-to-1.
In Chicago, we had Adam Smith, AALF board secretary and CEO of SchoolKiT join us for the principal's discussion. Building on Bruce's sentiments of the message set by the principal in schools, Adam expanded on the need for innovation and a keen eye on a district-level vision for 1-to-1. By managing the vision and providing the template for the school in terms of 1-to-1 learning, the principal makes it a tangible reality for all teachers and parents involved at the school level.
Rounding out the day, both Bruce and Gary excited the crowd with their work once again, providing commentary on how students can respond with thoughtful detailed precision... when challenged. Similar to challenging students, Bruce made sure leaders were aware that the challenge was on them as well - they needed to accept the challenge of providing the atmosphere for constructivist learning by laying out the vision, engaging stakeholders, and challenging all to respond.
Thanks to the many participants that made our Chicago summit a success and a special thanks to our presenters: Alice Owen, Mike Muir, Pamela Livingston, Adam Smith, Gary Stager, and Bruce Dixon.