What if Every Child Had a Laptop - and Nothing Changed, Part 2
By Bruce Dixon, President
Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation
Judging by the email response I received following last month's editorial on this topic, I think I might have highlighted a sensitive issue with many AALF members. While all agreed strongly with my concerns, several asked for more discussion around the topic. This previews the development that has been underway for a couple of months on our AALF website, and one of the new features will be more interactivity for such discussions. In the interim, we will post my editorials on the Issues page to open it up for more member comment.
I think this is very positive. Over the past month I have been constantly travelling, and I have spoken at a range of conferences and events in five countries, promoting both One-to-One and the Foundation. While I am thrilled with the extraordinary interest that surrounds One-to-One initiatives, I think we must continue to challenge ourselves around the core question, "What will be the impact on learning for students?" And by impact, I do not mean they will be using a keyboard instead of a pen!
So what steps can we take to do more to support those members who are looking to not only create more powerful and worthwhile learning experiences for their students, but are often in leadership positions and are looking for strategies to build such commitment in all their staff and not just the one or two highly innovative faculty who in effect might be more the exception than the rule?
I'd like to outline some thoughts on this topic of stimulating school-wide innovation in a One-to-One initiative, as well as asking for your comments. Firstly, I think we need to provide more proactive support around coaching. The idea of Peer Coaching has been with us for some time, and, in a similar way, so has the "Technology Integrator" or "ICT Integration Specialist." As I have discussed before, our lack of clarity in the language we use in education too often clouds great ideas. Let's develop a clearer definition of exactly what this role is, how it is classified, what skills are required to be effective in the role, and how we might develop and train people for the role.
My own thinking at this stage would be to define a Technology Coach. Yes, hopefully one day in the not-too-distant future we won't see the need for using the word technology so explicitly, but for now I do think it serves a purpose. I think this Technology Coach should be a senior position, one that has some leadership component, and requires an interesting mix of skills on the part of that coach, including:
There has also been some more theoretical discussion around the topic of Technical, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPCK) expertise that underpins this topic; you can Google some of the papers, and we'll include some links on our site when this is posted under the Issues section next week. Finally, Karen Ward, in her new role at the Foundation, is looking at having training for such specialist staff developed by spring next year. We'll keep you informed as the details firm up. In the meantime, I'd enjoy more discussion around the topic.
- Good listener, with excellent social skills, and able to work closely with staff.
- Depth and breadth of pedagogical knowledge and strategies to help teachers who are at various stages of technology integration.
- Knowledge of how to organize/structure a technology-rich classroom and awareness of relevant classroom management skills.
- Ability and experience to support individual teachers as they plan technology-rich activities or projects.
- Knowledge of effective grouping strategies, and able to partner with staff in developing integration opportunities.
- Knowledge of curriculum framework and how technology can support it.
- Recognized by staff as a strong teacher, in fact, most probably, an outstanding teacher who will keep their peer teachers up-to-date with current research on issues related to the integration of learning technologies.
|AALF Leadership: Executive Director News and Thoughts|
|New Beginnings - Moving Ahead
By Susan Einhorn, Executive Director
Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation
A new school year has begun, and at AALF there have been a number of new beginnings, too. I, for one, am a new addition After working at Logo Computer Systems Inc (LCSI) with Seymour Papert and many others in the constructivist learning community for over 23 years, I decided to focus my energies on one-to-one learning. I'm excited and honored to be working with such a dynamic, forward-thinking organization.
We're also lucky to have Karen Ward join us to manage our consulting services. In education for over 25 year, Karen has worked for the last decade as a consultant and coach for schools and districts, focusing on supporting principals, teachers and district administrators to help them understand the power of laptops as learning tools.
Like all organizations, the AALF must not only move ahead, but it should also take time to reflect on what it has already accomplished and on defining its long-term goals and the impact it hopes to have. In so doing, the foundation has begun to explore how it can best benefit its many members and how to grow the anytime, anywhere learning community. Over the next few months, there will be a number of new AALF initiatives, including improving and adding member benefits and establishing more ways for AALF members to participate in the foundation and share their knowledge, questions, and insights. Big changes are also in store for the AALF website. As well as having it be THE source of information on anytime, anywhere laptop learning, the web site will be more interactive to help us find out what you, our members, think and want to learn.
"New year, new beginnings" doesn't mean the foundation is dropping the worthwhile programs it has held in the past. New Regional Leadership Summits are being planned for Spring 2008. We're also thrilled to announce that AALF is now partnering with the Lausanne Collegiate School to offer the Laptop Institute (www.laptopinstitute.com), an international think tank and conference for schools using or considering laptops or tablets as tools for learning. The conference will be held July 13 - 15 in Memphis, Tennessee. More information will be available on the AALF website (www.aalf.org) in the next few weeks.
|Research to Action: Designing Powerful 1-to-1 Learning Experiences|
|Translating Research Findings Into Principles and Action
By Karen Ward, Manager of Consulting Services and Communications
Anytime Anytime Learning
Our experiences as educators and learners, along with available evaluative research reports, help us respond to the simplistic request found in the Question and Answer section of this newsletter: "Tell me in one or two sentences why foundation members know that one-to-one learning is a must." This is a simple request on the surface, but in reality the response is very complex by nature because one-to-one is not about the laptops; it is about the learning. Research reports and briefs enable us to build our knowledge about effective practices and potential outcomes. Each of us has probably had a similar experience: We receive and eagerly read the results of an "exhaustive research report" regarding the effectiveness of a one-to-one initiative. Our hope is that this report will provide us with insights that do not already exist; insights that will help us continue to build the effectiveness of our learning programs. However, what criteria do we use to judge the value of these reports, and are we using evaluative reports as simply reflective tools? Can we also look for emerging patterns of information in multiple reports that will help us not only understand our work but design highly effective learning programs? For educators, including school and district leaders, technology coaches, and classroom teachers, turning research into action is a must. How can evaluative research reports empower educators to turn research findings into classroom principles and action?
Let's examine one outcome of one-to-one programs that has been documented in multiple research findings: improvement in student writing abilities. One recommended report, prepared by the Maine Education Policy Research Institute at the University of Southern Maine, is titled, Maine's Middle School Laptop Program: Creating Better Writers. Year 8 writing test scores for two groups were examined for school years 2000 and 2005. Groups included all 8th grade laptop students, students who did not use laptops during all phases of the writing process, and students who used laptops during all phases of the writing process. Evidence in the report indicates that using laptops in all phases helped students to become better writers in general, not just while using laptops.
Another report out of Maine, One-to-One Laptops in a High School Environment, also found improvement in year 11 students writing scores on the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) scores. Although this is a final report and it does address student writing, it does not concentrate solely on that topic. The report provides evidence of student motivation, student engagement, student-teacher interaction, increased access to educational resources, and perceived improved quality of student work and achievement.
In yet another research report, The Wireless Writing Program 2004-2005, research director, Dr. Sharon Jeroski, reported on the direct impact for sixth and seventh grade students in British Columbia's Peace River North School District. These students were provided access to laptops with the objective of improving student writing ability. Findings state that 88% of students met grade level expectations in writing while nearly half of all students reached the top two levels of achievement, an increase from 36% in 2004 to 46% in 2005.
It is not suggested that these reports represent the only available resources, but please consider the following: What questions do these reports evoke for you? What insights do they provide? Can we identify best practices that should be incorporated into all one-to-one classes and programs? What implications do these reports and their outcomes suggest for educators who are serving as Technology Coaches (please refer to Bruce Dixon's article in this newsletter). Please share your ideas with other foundation members!
|1-to-1 Leadership and Learning|
"Increasing Student Achievement With 1-to-1 Classes"
By Antonia Stone
Learning Director, Corcoran High School, Corcoran Unified School District
Last year Corcoran High School implemented one-to-one classrooms in the English courses. At that time I served as an English teacher, (I am currently a learning director at the same school) and although this implementation represented a big challenge for me, I came to find that the same was not true for my students. I was used to a pen and paper classroom, but I was also excited about the opportunities a wireless learning environment could provide for my students and me. Concerned about my role as well as getting student 'buy-in,' I searched online for answers to my many questions and I found a plethora of both answers and resources. I discovered free class wiki's, blogs, web quests, and technology-based lesson plans. I was introduced to Quick Topic, Inspiration, and School Notes, amongst other programs. I also found that there was no need to be concerned about getting students motivated to learn in this new environment. They had already experienced one-to-one learning at the middle school they attended the previous year. Another big lesson I learned was that I didn't need to fake my laptop-intelligence with my students. Although I brought students ideas for learning and various programs to help with this learning, they were soon the masters of learning. In many ways, I was the student.
The laptops were never really the focus of learning. We were still focused on standards-based while we concentrated on the subject of English. For example, in my SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English which focuses on English Language Learning students) English 9 course students used Inspiration to create an outline wherein they could brainstorm their main ideas and supporting evidence after completing a unit on poetry. They used this outline to build their essays. They searched for supporting sources on the internet and then completed a website evaluation based on the results of this search. These were all things that could not be done without the laptops, but nonetheless, the laptops were used as a means of enhancing the subject, not replacing it.
I think it is important to point out that while I taught a range of English levels: Honors, SADIE and remediation students, I found that all students profited from using laptops as learning tools. At CHS, one of our focus groups has been our English Language Learner (ELL) students because they are the schools largest subgroup who perform the lowest on multiple measures, including the mandated California Standards Tests (CST). Last year 45 of my freshmen ELL students, which is a significant number, scored at the proficient level or higher on these CST's. In previous years that number had always been closer to zero. I know that part of this student growth and academic success was due to their digital classroom experience.
The remediation course I taught was a block class, which means that students were enrolled in my courses for consecutive class periods. We were on the Fast Track program, and, while the program was beneficial, the kids hated the stigma that came with the program. It was also difficult to get them engaged with learning. Many of them were not successful in year 8 or 8th grade. When we implemented our digital English classes, I found that a new world opened for them. There was a 100% turn-in rate for all class assignments and all students were eager to be involved in teaching other students in class by presenting their new learning to one another. Students and I experienced dynamic changes in class. Suddenly, education was important to them on all levels. It made learning easier for them, and they were checking our class website for directions and support in their learning both during class as well as outside of scheduled class time. Being in school became a major priority for these formerly struggling students. One example stands out in my mind. One day, the students and I noticed that one student was missing. We were diligently keeping track of our attendance, and it was unusual that this young lady not be present in class. Minutes after class started she burst through the door, obviously out of breath. "My aunt just got us in a car-accident," she said. "I had to run all the way here, but I made it!" That's the kind of class we became.
Earlier, I talked about "buy-in." From my experience, it is teachers who need to have the "buy-in." Technology seems like a foreign language to many educators. Adapting to this learning environment can require a lot of work and resulting frustration. Some may feel that this appears to put the teacher at a disadvantage because the students know more about the language of technology. The reality I discovered is that this "buy-in" has a substantial payoff. What we found after implementing our one-to-one English classes at CHS was that student attendance increased, there was a reduction in discipline issues, and there was an obvious increase in student engagement and learning. We all know that technology is the future for our students. What we as teachers don't realize is that it is our future, too.
Antonia Stone is a learning director at Corcoran High School. She can be reached at email@example.com
|1-to-1 Learning: Student Voices|
|"We have learned so much and we are so excited about learning! "
By Donna Rojo, Year 10 student, Corcoran High School, Corcoran Unified School District
and Karen Ward, Manager Communications and Consulting Services, AALF
(Note: The italicized words are quotes from the contributing student)
Profound truths emerge from focused guided conversations with students about their learning experiences, their commitment to education and the way they see that education and their future merging to provide success. Student comments can provoke insightful dialogue among educators. This article, jointly written, is meant to do just that: provoke engaging dialogue as well as new ideas for educators (and possibly students) in whatever capacity they currently serve.
It is important to note that Corcoran High School is located in a rural agricultural valley called the San Joaquin Valley or the Central Valley of California. This valley is the largest agricultural valley in the world, both in size and production. While known as 'the nation's salad bowl' because of the great array of fruits and vegetables grown here, it is also home to a large number of low-income agricultural workers - not an uncommon challenge in an ag-based economy. Several years ago, Corcoran Unified School District made the decision to build a one-to-one program in grades 7-12. For Donna Rojo, a year 10 student, this opportunity has truly been life-changing.
We have learned so much and we are so excited about learning. These were some of the first words I ever heard Donna utter regarding her laptop learning experiences. I came to learn that she had so much more to say!
In an earlier interview, I said, "If technology is our future, then why are people so afraid of it?" Today, more than ever, I support that question. I remember I was even a little afraid when I first started using laptops in class. When I was in the 4th and 5th grade, I remember taking computer classes once a week and I remember learning the basics of keyboarding and Word. I remember having fun learning with my classmates when Mrs. Johnson would bring up Brain-Pop on the Internet. I really enjoyed my time on Friday afternoons when we walked over to the computer lab. During my 8th grade year, my English Teacher, Mrs. Hulbert, who I completely adore, informed the class that the school had received a grant to buy new laptops and that we would be the first class to receive them. That class was my favorite class by far because I learned so much. We students used laptops to learn almost everyday. That year was the first time I had ever heard of a flash drive. I had so much fun because I not only learned about English, but we also learned how to think differently, which was, I think, due to our laptop experience. I learned how to use programs that helped me as a student, so I saw the direct connection between school and my future. I also learned to love using laptops instead of fearing what would happen in class because of them.
Corcoran High School's laptop initiative started when Donna was a year 9 student and Donna recognizes the change in learning environments since the implementation of the district laptop initiative. During my freshman year at Corcoran High School (year 9) my English teacher, Mrs. Stone, who is now serving as learning director and counselor, received her class laptops. She introduced us to new ways of using the laptops, like class websites, which was great because we could always use the website to find out about class and each student could log-in and then work at their own speed. It really did help us out to have a class website because it really organized us as a class and unified us as learners to be successful. We also started taking tests or quizzes online, which was also great because we learned almost instantly how well we did on the test. Mrs. Stone taught us how to use online discussion forums. I loved the interactivity of online discussions because we all got involved in sharing our thoughts and what we had learned and we could give feedback to one another, which was especially helpful. One of the programs available on all laptops is Inspiration, which empowers students to create thinking maps. Mrs. Stone taught us how to use Inspiration and that really helped us a lot because we used it to better organize our learning and thinking. By the time we were done with a unit of study, we knew we were thinking differently about the topic. This program also supported my writing, and I became a better writer. All of these developments just really excited me about learning.
Donna speaks easily about the connection between what she is learning in school and her life. Bringing in laptops really helped us so much with not only school but beyond, as well, because it opened new doors for us. So having technology at school really helps us out a lot Technology does not only live in my high school, but it runs our lives as well. For example, during the summer of 2007 I was accepted to a summer government camp called Junior Statesman of America which was at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. The other students who attended and I took our school laptops with us and this made such a difference. We felt we were more effective in our activities because we could apply what we learned in Corcoran to what we were doing during this camp.
This program has even affected my family life. Before I became a laptop student, my parents never really asked me much about exactly what I was doing in classes, but when they saw me get really excited about what I was learning, they wanted to talk about what I was doing in school every day. I see that it has really influenced my parents as well. My friends tell me the same thing, and so I think it has really helped our community to grow as a whole. We have learned so much, and we are so excited about learning. It has been especially good here in Corcoran because we are such a small town.
Donna addresses two groups about the future when asked for her words of advice. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to those who helped my school get laptops and I would also like to take the time to stress how important it is to bring technology to a child's life. Technology is not something that should be forgotten and put to the side; it should be taken seriously because, in the end, it is inevitably our future. It seems that teachers tend to talk to each other about their core subjects, and so they aren't really on the same page with each other as to what programs they should use. Teachers, please talk to one another about how you are going to tie your lessons in with technology. Talk about what program or website would be most helpful for your class learning environment. I know that I think differently now as a student because before we got our laptops I never thought of them as a tool to learn. So I really encourage students to try hard and to learn everything that is put in front of them, because in the future, every little lesson is extremely helpful.
|1-to-1 Global Storybook|
Adapted from Transforming Learning, An anthology of Miracles in Technology-Rich Classrooms
by Kelly Hammond, Academic Dean
Cincinnati Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
As any laptop teacher can tell you, technology is the domain of the students. At first, the key to teaching how to approach this tool seemed to be in the hefty multimedia research projects that could bring knowledge, analysis, and kids together. Once a quarter, we'd take class time, home time, and break time to se the kids off on a huge academic journey. While the results of these were often stunning - a parents' night showcase dream - they were group successes that often required some shouldering by the work-alcoholics. This was nothing new in collaborative projects, surely, and nothing that couldn't be done, with a little more time and effort, in a computer lab. It wasn't until we started taking advantage of the portability and "dailiness" of the laptops that the magic of the newly found autonomy started to show.
With laptops in the classroom, I found I could lure the kids into learning anywhere, and they, in turn, found that they could love it. However, the idea that the students might actively seek learning outside of class led me to the narcissistic pursuit of replicating myself electronically. I sent home writing prompts and guiding templates rife with examples and explanations. I was available by email for homework help. I found tutorial websites for students having trouble, and encouraged the use of dictionary.com during reading. I even found myself chatting on Instant Messenger, just to let students know what I was up to.
As the laptops became more central, more daily tools of learning, the miracles began to happen, not because of the technology, but because of what the students could accomplish on heir own with this multi-faceted tool. In response to the first five-paragraph essay assignment, one student turned in three sentences (spaced out, so it at least bore a resemblance to three paragraphs). Over the course of the essay-intensive quarter, we employed the laptops for concept mapping, outlining, my essay template and prompts, peer editing, and revision to master the five-headed beast. I noticed this tech-loving student's skills improving, noticed that he took one of the longer, more difficult essay options on an exam. When, toward the end of the year, a TV crew arrived to gawk at the laptop sideshow, they randomly chose this student for an interview. They asked how the laptops had changed his life, and I expected to hear stories of South Park downloads and Looney Toons chat rooms. Instead, he offered that he liked writing a lot more'. Another student who struggled the entire year with the transition from the concrete to the abstract, asked during our five-paragraph crusade essay if he could stop using the essay template. 'I think I've got it, you know,' he said, exasperated. Silly teachers.
Despite such victories, technology is not a panacea for all classroom woes. It doesn't magically ensure that students will do their work on time and to the best of their ability. It doesn't eradicate the wealth of bad habits, poor choices, peer pressure, and teenage angst. Technology does, though, reach the students where they are and give them the resources to move forward-on their own. By using technology in the classroom, a teacher can import a passion for knowledge to the world in which the kids rule. The result is a student population that often takes the initiative for seeking knowledge. And, they will keep on learning, whether they remain in a laptop environment or not. They learn how to continue with an inquiry. They learn to persevere. And best of all, they ask for more.
Ms. Hammond has taught English, history, and computer science and has worked on faculty development to promote the integration of laptops into curriculum.
|Questions and Answers from Foundation Members|
Why One-to-One Learning?
Q: Recently I was involved in a discussion with a school administrator about the power of one-to-one learning. He asked engaging questions and listened intently, and then he requested a statement regarding the following, "Tell me in one or two sentences why foundation members know that one-to-one learning is a must." I shared again with him evaluative reserach outcomes that point out the high levels of student engagement, ownership, and motivation. That teacher pedagogy evolves to incorporate both content area knowledge and skills necessary to be successful life-long learners. That student writing improves, and that students have heightened perceptions regarding their ability to function in the world beyond school, to be life-long learners. I was unable to answer his next question: "I understand what the evaluative research shows, but what do foundation members believe about the necessity of one-to-one learning?" And so, I am asking you to consider the three questions listed below and to provide other foundation members with your insight by answering these questions at our online survey site:
- What is your most compelling student learning reason for implementing a one-to-one program?
- What is your most compelling teacher instruction reason for implementing a one-to-one program?
- Why should schools implement one-to-one programs?
A: The December AALF newsletter will report your responses to these three questions. Thank you in advance for giving us a few minutes of your invaluable time!
| Conferences and Events|
| The Laptop Institute|
The Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation (AALF) and Lausanne Collegiate School (LCS) have joined forces to co-produce the 2008 Laptop Institute to be held at Lausanne Collegiate School. The Laptop Institute, which will be the world's major educational conference devoted solely to K-12 laptop learning, will be held on July 13-15, 2008 at LCS in Memphis, Tennessee. The Laptop Institute is designed to be an international think tank for schools using or considering laptops or tablets as tools for learning.
The conference program will combine a rich array of one-to-one leaders from around the world to discuss a wide variety of issues around anytime anywhere laptop learning. These issues range from planning for schools or districts just considering laptop initiatives to leadership and pedagogy for schools that have had laptop programs for a number of years. A major focus of the conference program will be to highlight best practices among the thousands of schools that currently have laptop programs.
Both organizations are very pleased to join their forces in supporting one-to-one educators.
Susan Einhorn, Executive Director of AALF stated that, "By working together, AALF and Lausanne Collegiate have created a unique opportunity for educators and educational leadership. AALF has been a long-time champion of the Laptop Institute and this new partnership continues a wonderful legacy. We are looking forward to an exciting and successful conference in Memphis." Stewart Crais, Director of the Laptop Institute added, "LCS is very excited about creating this partnership to provide resources, collaboration, and community-building for one-to-one initiatives around the world. The AALF brings a vision of the future of education in an innovative, technology-rich environment. The Laptop Institute has traditionally had a hands-on approach, where participants focused on practical ideas. By combining our efforts, the 2008 Laptop Institute will help connect this practical knowledge to the long-term goals and envisioned impact of one-to-one learning."
The Laptop Institute will be held July 13-15, 2008, at Lausanne Collegiate in Memphis, Tennessee. We encourage AALF members to consider both attending the institute as well as applying to be presenters or panel discussion leaders. Online information is now available at www.laptopinstitute.com.
This summit, which convened from October 30 - November 1, 2007, brought together leaders from around the world to challenge, debate, discuss, and discover issues of education. The theme of the summit was "Innovation in the Age of Accountability." As stated on the summit website, the summit objective was to bring together policy makers from around the world to share best practices and talk about the role that ICT can play in education. Over 370 participants representing 50 different countries attended, while speakers or hosts represented 20 different countries. Mr. Dixon spoke the first day of the summit. You may view his presentation titled, A New Age of Education, as well as other presentations Sponsored by Microsoft, other summit partners included Houghton Mifflin Learning Technology, the Ford Motor Company, and Sanako.
Bruce Dixon, President of the AALF recently participated in the School of the Future Summit 2007 held in Helsinki, Finland.