Sustaining What and Why?
By Bruce Dixon, President
Sustainability is an interesting topic that seems to be getting a lot of airplay at the moment. I have commented on this previously, but the recent One-to-One Computing Conference in Pennsylvania in April highlighted some of the real issues of which we need to be mindful.
Sustainability has several dimensions, the first and most obvious being, what is it that you are trying to sustain and why? Sadly, some might answer "our existing program" without questioning the value of the learning experience being delivered to students, i.e. 1-to-1 versus anytime, anywhere learning. As the vision of every child having access to his or her own personal portable computer becomes more real, and common, not enough questions are being asked about the vision for learning that should underpin any initiative.
Answers to the following questions might be a good starting point to determine the impact such an initiative is really having on your students' learning, and whether it is truly worth sustaining. Are current learning activities simply replicas of those done before, but done now with technology? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the questions below, as well as any additional topics you might like to add:
- Is it something different, rather than innovative?
- Is it genuinely improving the learning experiences for students? If so how? Can you very clearly articulate that improvement?
- How is it impacting the lives of your students?
- How is immersive access increasing the learning opportunities for your students?
- What is the scale of improved experience (ie how often, across which classes, and over what period of time)?
Seems to me that too often some might actually be trying to sustain legacy practice, under the guise of a technology initiative, without challenging the fundamentals of what is really going on.
So first and foremost, I would plead for a close examination of the impact on the learning experiences of your students. Then, and only then, would I start exploring the other dimensions such as funding sustainability and the options you might consider there. You see, without exception, if the impact in the classroom is significant, enough people will want to sustain the initiative. They will find the necessary funding to make it happen rather than the other way around.
Too often people see the funding stream coming to an end, and that becomes the focus of their energies. Get the experience for your students right, and the rest will eventually fall into place.
|AALF Leadership: Executive Director News and Thoughts|
Lifelong Learning By Susan Einhorn, Executive Director
My 12-year old daughter recently remarked that I'm always reading, particularly books about schools and education. I don't think she said it with fear (OMG, you have homework as an adult?!?) or awe (Wow, Mom! You are so smart!), but more like an acknowledgment that this is something we have in common, and that in itself is interesting.
She's right - I try to keep at least one book handy at all times for when I can grab a moment to read. Based on a colleague's recommendation, I'm currently reading In Schools We Trust by Deborah Meier. It describes the author's efforts to create schools that are true learning communities for the students, the teachers, and the community. It's another excellent book, full of challenging ideas and an exceptional educator's insights into how to create good conditions for learning and teaching. The problem is that there are just so many informative, thoughtful, provocative books about learning, schools and education that it's difficult to keep up. This is compounded by the fact that there are also a number of books not specifically about education and learning, but still extremely relevant, such as The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman. And then there's the challenge of not just reading each book, but finding time to share ideas with colleagues and reflect on what these ideas mean in terms of our work with students, schools, and our own thinking. Lifelong learning can be pretty overwhelming!
Overcoming these time limitations is not easy, but one way to start is to use the AALF web site and newsletter as a vehicle for sharing. If there are ideas in a book that you consider of particular value to the AALF community, share them. Even though other community members may not have the time to read all the books suggested, they'll at least have the opportunity to learn and think about some of the ideas that resonated with another member of the AALF community. If you're not sure where to start, consider these questions:
- What book would you recommend to your colleagues?
- How has this book changed your ideas about learning (or laptop learning, transforming schools, change management, etc)?
- In what ways have you changed your practice based on ideas introduced in a book or article?
- What is on your list of the top 10 books you'd recommend to someone just starting his or her teaching or educational leadership career, in general, or, more specifically, in a 1-to-1 school?
Send your comments, ideas, and lists to Seinhorn@aalf.org
. We'll try to include different reviews, recommendations, and top 10 lists in upcoming newsletters and on the AALF web site.
A reminder - There are a number of upcoming AALF events (the ** indicates a recently added event):
- AALF's 21 Steps to 21st Century Learning Institute
- August 18-19, Lambertville, NJ
- October 28-29, St. Louis, MO **
- Anytime Anywhere Learning and Teaching Academy
- July 11-13, Portland, OR (Registration closed.)
- October 22-24, New Hope, PA **
Check below for more information about each of these events.
Now, back to my book....
|AALF Coaching and Consulting|
|Introductions and Support
By Karen Ward, Manager of Consulting Services and Communications
My column this month is designed to be an introduction of sorts. The first introduction (or renewed introduction) is to the AALF website
tools and some of the resources
I had an interesting and lively discussion recently with a young man who is studying to become an architect (maybe it was more of a 'lively listen' on my part). While his enthusiasm for his chosen career path was obvious, one of his comments was particularly interesting when he compared the job of an architect to that of a teacher. "I think architects must be like good teachers. Both design something that offers support, have the opportunity to change lives but may be taken for granted, and should be around for a long time." This young man comes from a family of teachers and he has listened to
'teacher talk' for years, so his comment, when put in context, was quite appropriate. I recognize that his comparison is not unique or the result of living in the Web 2.0 world, but it did get me thinking about the tools architects and educators use and the resources on which they depend in carrying out their work.
Our AALF website
is designed to be one of the tools on which 1-to-1 educators can depend. A wealth of resources are available by clicking on the 'Resources'
link. Several more clicks on the left navigation bar (Education Topics) will lead you to resources
that will help you in designing your mission, vision, goals and objectives, becoming more knowledgeable about 21st century learners, or learning about the relevance and need for 1-to-1 learning environments. The AALF website will change in upcoming months so that we can offer more support to all Foundation members.
The second introduction is to one of our AALF coaches. AALF coaching and consulting
is designed to provide ongoing support for educators and policy makers at the school, district, state or country level. AALF coaches and consultants represent a broad range of experts who are knowledgeable and experienced in designing and implementing highly effective 1-to-1 learning programs. Joe Hofmeister, one of our coaches, embodies these qualities. Be sure to read his article below to find out why he is such a great support provider for educators. You can also learn more about AALF coaching support in our April Newsletter
and on our website
Have a great month!
|Introducing AALF Coaches|
|Changes That Matter|
By Joe Hofmeister, AALF Coach
When we launched our 1-to-1 program at Cincinnati Country Day
in the fall of 1996, there were no footprints to follow and there were plenty of people to say it couldn't be done. We were the first school in the country to institute a large-scale program, one that involved all
students in grades 5-12 and all teachers. Families were required to purchase a new laptop at the beginning of fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades. Looking back now, it is difficult to even imagine the way life was then. Princess Diana was alive and well, laptops were rare and in the hands of top executives only, no one had ever heard of an iPod, and 802.11 was just a weird series of digits.
It was this last piece that now looks earthshakingly absent to me. Imagine a world where the term wireless was just an old fashioned way of describing a radio. Networks were all hard wired, if they existed at all. And though 'hard' was the term used to describe the wires strung throughout a building (and a very few schools), it was also a hard life for the teachers making the effort to integrate the new laptops into their classes by connecting them to the network. Picture this classroom: 20 students each equipped with a laptop and a 15 foot Ethernet cable. In the center of the room there is a 24 port hub and spread around the room are three homemade power strips each holding eight electrical outlets. The lesson plan included connecting everyone to a particular internet site, one that the teacher had researched and found valuable to their lesson. So students dutifully connected their Ethernet cables to the hub and their electrical cords to the outlets, trying hard not to trip over all the wires now on the floor. It took courage and a belief in the inevitability of technology-fueled change that led teachers to deal with what now looks like a nightmarish scenario. But deal with it they did, and the school is now reaping the rewards of their innovative spirits.
After we survived our first year with the 1-to-1 laptop program, I remember being asked by our head of school, Dr. Charles Clark, to summarize the changes that were taking place in the school because of the 1-to-1 program. Always a visionary pedagogue, Dr. Clark said he wanted the big picture, the overall changes, and the changes that were affecting the intellectual life of the school. Many conversations later, I outlined what seemed to me the most important changes that had occurred in the school's learning landscape. The two most significant changes had to do with information and communication, two critical learning areas in any school.
When a 1-to-1 program is in place, information takes on new dimensions. It is more easily accessed, its evaluation becomes more critical, its sources are much more diverse, and the perception of its meaning changes. Ownership of the information is democratized and
its validity is no longer simply a matter of trust in a text or an authority. The canonicity of text disappears as the credibility of information is no longer simply dependent on its appearance in a textbook.
Inside the school, communication blossoms like spring flowers (and sometimes like spring weeds!). Communication between students and teachers as well as between students and other students grows quickly as the convenience and availability of email make these kinds of connections important in the school's daily life. Teachers are able to give and receive assignments electronically, and the bar rises for expectations of all written work. Communication between members of the school community and the world outside the school opens relational possibilities that simply didn't exist prior to the 1-to-1 program. Far-flung relatives seem much closer and Grandma is no longer someone students talk to only on holidays. Information sources and other schools are now collaborators of far greater potential, for students as well as teachers.
These changes, sparked by the implementation of a 1-to-1 program, are themselves changing and deserve much more discussion. The changes tend to occur without administrative mandate and almost develop a life of their own. It's fun to work in a 1-to-1 school, but a challenge as well. Nothing is ever final. Rather it is a continual rehearsal, followed by rounds of tweaking and improvements.
Joe Hofmeister is a highly experienced educational technology consultant. He has particularly been involved with schools that are either starting a 1-to-1 program or that find themselves needing to get their laptop learning program back into high gear. As long-term technology director at Cincinnati Country Day School, he led the school's pioneering efforts with one of the nation's first immersions into a laptop program in which every student from grades 5-12 was required to purchase a laptop and have it available at school every day. Cincinnati Country Day was one of the first groups to be honored by Microsoft as a "Center of Excellence"
and hundreds of teachers and administrators have attended three-day workshops at the school to see firsthand how the school has integrated ubiquitous technology on campus.
Joe has spoken at many conferences and seminars and has been on advisory boards at Apple, Microsoft, Toshiba and the Bertelsmann Foundation. He has co-authored eight books for classroom integration of technology and has contributed chapters and articles to a number of other publications. Along with serving as an AALF consultant and coach, he is presently a member of the NAIS Technology Task Force
and recently was invited to take part in Ohio's Institute on Creativity and Innovation in Schools.
1-to-1 Teaching and Learning
By Janet Miller Graeber, excerpt from
Transforming Learning; An Anthology of Miracles in Technology-Rich Classrooms
The author first used technology as a teaching and learning tool while she served as a classroom teacher, then as a technology/curriculum specialist. In the following piece she writes about her experiences and insight as a 1-to-1 teacher and administrator at Forest Ridge School School of the Sacred Heart in Bellevue, Washington.
It's all about perspective, that personal view one brings to every situation. Consistent and constant access to one's own personal laptop computer coupled with internet connectivity changes the perspective one brings to the learning environment. Unlike desktop computers,
laptops are about transparency. The individual determines when, where, and for what task the laptop is best used. It becomes one's paper and pencil; a tool for recording thoughts, manipulating data, doodling with ideas, and transmitting information to another person.
A laptop with internet connectivity changes the nature of collaboration. No longer restricted to a physical location, group projects can take form in a virtual space with information transmitted among the group members. Add a network to the picture and now we have a common space for 'class' to occur. Truly, no longer constrained by the traditional four walls of the classroom, class meets in a virtual location-asking questions of classmates electronically, downloading lessons, submitting homework, engaging in electronic discussions-each individual 'arriving in class' based on their own schedule.
Four Essential Factors for Success
In the course of my technology-learning journey, it has become apparent to me that four factors are essential in order to sustain meaningful change.
The first is personal access to the technology for every teacher and student. In today's world, the portable computer with a common set of applications and connectivity to the internet both at home and at school fulfills this requirement. The second is the consistent opportunity to use this technology for communication, collaboration, and research.
The third is professional development
for teachers that focuses on using these tools within the context of curriculum and individual needs. Our professional development model has evolved over the years to include a combination of 'just in time learning' and 'just in case learning', a descriptor borrowed from Peter Crawley. The 'just in time' sessions address an immediate need; the 'just in case' sessions provide an opportunity to seed ideas for the future. Regardless of the type of session offered, we have found that professional development which is led by fellow faculty members is a powerful motivator for learning. Each of these professional development sessions follows a common model. The focus is on the curriculum and the creation of new possibilities for learning, communicating, and/or accessing information. The sessions begin with a hands-on introduction to an aspect of an application or digital tool. Faculty are then given time to explore and/or experiment with this new possibility. Questions for help are answered by anyone in the room. Before the end of each session, the participants brainstorm potential uses of these new tools within their respective disciplines.
The fourth is administrative and parental support for teachers and students engaged in discerning new ways to interact, to exchange ideas, to communicate, to grapple with ideas, and to access information.
The infusion of laptops into Forest Ridge has changed the way in which we communicate, collaborate, and access information. It has changed our perspective about how we see
ourselves as a community of learners. Every day offers a new discovery, a new insight into learning. School, no longer contained within four walls, has added a virtual dimension that offers new possibilities for teaching and learning. Our teachers now work in a global classroom. It's just a matter of perspective, that way in which we view the world around us.
|AALF Worldwide Networking|
|Our AALF worldwide newsletter readership continues to grow. In the past six months our foundation enrollment and readers have grown to over 2,500 members. This is exciting news and certainly provides evidence about the relevance of 1-to-1 learning across continents! As our audience and support continues to grow, we are anxious to provide timely and relevant information regarding 1-to-1 learning and schools around the world. With this in mind, I would like to invite foundation members to get involved with the production of this monthly publication. There are several ways you can contribute to this important work:
- Get involved with a RTA group (Research-to-Action); these groups will continue to contribute to the '1-to-1 Leadership and Learning' column which explores 'best pedagogical practices'
- Volunteer your school to be a '1-to-1 Global Storybook Spotlight School'; this column provides an in depth look at 1-to-1 schools from the perspective of leaders, teachers, and students
- Volunteer to help with production of the newsletter; editors are needed as our publication continues to grow in breadth and depth
- Volunteer your unique suggestions; suggest columns or ideas you think would benefit 1-to-1 educators around the world
Please contact Karen Ward (firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-223-3753) if you are interested in any of these opportunities.
Conferences, Institutes, Academies and Events
21 Steps to 21st Century Learning Institute
This two-day institute, designed for superintendents, principals, and headmasters, will focus on the 21 steps needed to provide successful 1-to-1 learning cultures on their campuses. Sponsored by AALF and based on the experiences of thousands of laptop schools around the world, the 21 Steps to 21st Century Learning range from research and resource assessment, through all stages of project and financial planning, communications, professional development, and deployment. Space is very limited for each institute, so register early. The next institutes will be held August 18-19 in Lambertville, New Jersey, and October 27-28 in St. Louis, Missouri. For more information or to register, click:
21 Steps to 21st Century Learning Institute- NJ
21 Steps to 21st Century Learning Institute - MO
Anytime Anywhere Learning and Teaching Academy
The Anytime Anywhere Learning and Teaching Academy will help you build your in-school digital pedagogical coaching team. The AALT Academy focuses on developing and supporting peer coaching skills and exploring curriculum in new ways in order to develop a 1-to-1 pedagogy. Designed for schools that already have or are beginning 1-to-1 learning and for those who have had 1-to-1 in place for a few years and want to re-ignite the pedagogical fires, the Anytime Anywhere Learning and Teaching Academy is also an excellent first-step when initiating an AALF coaching plan. The next AALT Academy will be held October 22-24, 2008, in New Hope, PA. For more information and online registration for the Anytime Anywhere Learning and Teaching Academy, click AALTA - PA.
The Laptop Institute
The Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation and Lausanne Collegiate School (LCS) have joined forces to co-produce the 2008 Laptop Institute. The Laptop Institute, the world's major educational conference devoted solely to K-12 laptop learning, will be held July 13-15, 2008, at Lausanne Collegiate School 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. Online information is available at www.laptopinstitute.com.
Constructing Modern Knowledge
AALF is proud to be one of the sponsors of Constructing Modern Knowledge, a minds-on institute for educators committed to creativity, collaboration, and computing. Alfie Kohn, Bob Tinker, Gary Stager, Peter Reynolds, and Cynthia Solomon along with others will be featured at this summer learning event. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in intensive computer-rich project development with peers and a world-class faculty including educational pioneers, best-selling authors and inventors of educational technologies. 21st Century educators need to develop their own technological fluency and understand learning in order to meet the changing needs and expectations of their students. Constructing Modern Knowledge will help participants enhance their tech skills, expand their vision of how computers may enhance the learning environment and leave with practical ideas to use in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge guarantees action for all participants. Each day's program consists of a discussion of powerful ideas, mini tutorials on-demand, immersive learning adventures designed to challenge one's thinking, substantial time for project work, and a reflection period. Inspirational guest speakers and social events round out this fantastic event. Additional details are available at the Constructing Modern Knowledge 2008 website.
Do you have an upcoming 1-to-1 event you would like to share with other newsletter readers? Contact Karen Ward (email@example.com ) for additional information.