Archive for January 2010

Jobs of Tomorrow

As edu­ca­tors, one of our great­est roles is to pre­pare stu­dents to be pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens in our soci­ety.  One major com­po­nent of being a pro­duc­tive cit­i­zen is con­tribut­ing to our soci­ety through employ­ment.  Unfor­tu­nately, no one knows exactly what the jobs of tomor­row will look like, and we’re not exactly sure what we are prepar­ing our stu­dents to do.  Many of the jobs they will hold haven’t even been invented yet.

So what are we to do if we don’t know exactly what we are prepar­ing our stu­dents for?
Although we don’t know exactly what jobs our stu­dents will hold, we do have a pretty good ideas what fields will see the most growth.  As schools begin to make major sec­ond order changes such as one to one, it would be worth­while to take a look at where those growth areas are.  With those fields in mind, edu­ca­tors may be bet­ter able to develop cur­ricu­lums that will be much more mean­ing­ful and rel­e­vant for stu­dents’ futures. 

I have found a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent sites that can be used to help steer con­ver­sa­tions with edu­ca­tors as they begin to make deci­sions about cre­at­ing change in their schools.  These sites each make pre­dic­tions about the areas of growth for the future.

One to One Produces Results!

When I speak with one to one edu­ca­tors, I almost always ask two questions.

1)  Has one to one had a pos­i­tive impact on stu­dent engagement?

2)  How has one to one impacted stu­dent achievement?

Ques­tion one gets a resound­ing yes every time.  Some responses to the ques­tion have actu­ally been quite enter­tain­ing such as the teacher who remarked, “Oh, God yes!”  The responses for ques­tion two have also been very con­vinc­ing.  Many teach­ers have shared that they have seen increased per­for­mance in their classes.  Unfor­tu­nately, because my con­ver­sa­tions have been lim­ited to begin­ning one to one schools, I haven’t been able to dis­cuss long term achieve­ment results with educators.

I would strongly encour­age those schools that are con­sid­er­ing the move to one to one to get out there and ask these ques­tions and oth­ers to cur­rent one to one edu­ca­tors.  Each and every time I have these con­ver­sa­tions, I am more con­vinced of the ben­e­fits of one to one.

Edge­combe County Pub­lic Schools in North Car­olina was recently fea­tured in a story on  The school is a one to one school, and those inter­viewed talk about the impact on stu­dent engage­ment and stu­dent achievement.

Connecting the Dots

I recently wrote about a work­shop I attended with Will Richard­son.  Dur­ing that work­shop, Will chal­lenged us to stretch our think­ing.  One thing he com­pelled us to think about was how well we were con­nect­ing our dots, where our dots were located, and how many dots we had con­nected.  (Hope­fully, I didn’t lose you yet!)  Will was refer­ring to how well we were con­nected to one another and how well we shared our resources.

Wiki­nomics by Tap­scott and Williams and Here Comes Ever­body by Clay Shirky are two books that absolutely rein­force the mes­sage Will deliv­ered.  Both books have great exam­ples of how tech­nol­ogy and the power of col­lab­o­ra­tion can help improve orga­ni­za­tions, prod­ucts, and processes.  As I read through those books and par­tic­i­pated in the day long work­shop with Will, I won­dered how well one to one schools are doing at con­nect­ing the dots.

My obser­va­tion is that one to one schools do a bet­ter job col­lab­o­rat­ing than most schools, but they still have a long way to go.  Nation­ally, fewer than 10% of schools are one to one.  This throws up a road­block to col­lab­o­ra­tion because there aren’t many one to one schools.  This will require schools to aggres­sively seek out and develop part­ner­ships with other schools, even if they may not be geo­graph­i­cally close to one another.

Lead­ers need to pro­vide ways for teach­ers to col­lab­o­rate with other one to one teach­ers.  If a Span­ish teacher in town A has a great les­son, why should a Span­ish teacher in town B not have access to that les­son?  My dream would be for a site, sim­i­lar to Wikipedia, where one to one teach­ers could post their best lessons so other teach­ers didn’t have to develop each les­son on their own.  It could also be a place where edu­ca­tors could col­lab­o­rate with other edu­ca­tors in spe­cific con­tent areas.

Of course, another huge piece of the col­lab­o­ra­tion needs to occur between edu­ca­tional lead­ers.  Most of the work that I do with CASTLE is focused on this. CASTLE has devel­oped a wiki where lead­ers are wel­come to use and add resources that may be help­ful for other one to one schools.  We will also con­tinue to develop other tools that may help build and strengthen col­lab­o­ra­tive net­works.  When that hap­pens, I’ll be sure to let all of you know.Visit our wiki and start con­nect­ing the dots today!

Students — your best allies and evangelists for your 1:1 program

In most schools, lap­top ini­tia­tives start with a vision of improv­ing stu­dent achieve­ment, sup­port­ing 21st cen­tury edu­ca­tion, and pro­vid­ing new oppor­tu­ni­ties for student-centered learn­ing. Stake­holder meet­ings are held with a wide array of com­mu­nity lead­ers, busi­ness peo­ple, edu­ca­tors, par­ents, and oth­ers to gain com­mu­nity buy-in. How­ever in many cases, the largest stake­holder group in a dis­trict is left out — students.

In most schools, stu­dents are over 92% of the peo­ple in the sys­tem, and they are cer­tainly the ones most affected by any change. Yet we often over­look them when we plan and imple­ment vision­ary efforts like going 1:1. This does not have to be — stu­dents, if allowed to par­tic­i­pate, can be pow­er­ful allies and evan­ge­lists for your lap­top revolution.

Any school-related change, be it tech­no­log­i­cal or oth­er­wise, needs peo­ple to feel that they have a sense of con­trol and choice in the efforts. How­ever, stu­dents are rarely asked to par­tic­i­pate in these changes, and worse, are often seen sim­ply as the objects of change. Includ­ing stu­dents in the roll­out of your lap­top pro­gram will pro­vide them with a sense of mis­sion and pur­pose. By allow­ing them to par­tic­i­pate and voice their opin­ions about changes tak­ing place in their school, their pas­sion and atti­tude toward the lap­tops will have a pro­found effect on their peers, par­ents, and com­mu­nity at large. Rein­forc­ing the belief that their voice and their actions are impor­tant, nec­es­sary, and val­ued cre­ates stu­dents who will become empow­ered, global cit­i­zens of the 21st cen­tury. Yet this can’t hap­pen by itself. As any­one who works with youth knows, the process of learn­ing to become a valu­able team mem­ber and respon­si­ble cit­i­zen takes time. It also requires car­ing adults who super­vise, teach, and men­tor youth.Studentsupportlaptopcover

In our most recent Gen­er­a­tion YES whitepa­per, I dis­cuss how stu­dents can be part­ners, allies, and pow­er­ful evan­ge­lists in any lap­top ini­tia­tive, and out­line ways this can be achieved. I’ve col­lected many case stud­ies from real schools where this is hap­pen­ing, from ele­men­tary, mid­dle, and high schools. I invite you to down­load this PDF and share this free resource with your lap­top team. Stu­dent Sup­port of Lap­top Pro­grams (PDF)

Other free resources from Gen­er­a­tion YES relat­ing to youth empow­er­ment via mod­ern tech­nolo­gies can be found on our web­site.

For this post, I’ll share a selec­tion of these prac­ti­cal tips on includ­ing stu­dents in every aspect of your lap­top initiative.

There are two basic ways stu­dents can par­tic­i­pate and con­tribute to the plan­ning and imple­men­ta­tion of a lap­top program:

  1. Com­mit­tees: Stu­dents can par­tic­i­pate in tech­nol­ogy plan­ning com­mit­tees, school site coun­cils, tech­nol­ogy secu­rity com­mit­tees, or peer review com­mit­tees. Adults often claim that includ­ing stu­dents in plan­ning is risky, cit­ing pri­vacy con­cerns, lack of matu­rity, or dif­fi­cult logis­tics. How­ever, adults often for­get that accom­mo­da­tions are made for them when they are included in such plan­ning com­mit­tees. Adults may or may not know any­thing about tech­nol­ogy, they also have sched­ules to work around, and may not have been in an actual class­room for years if not decades. 
Hav­ing stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in com­mit­tee work is not only a won­der­ful learn­ing oppor­tu­nity for a stu­dent but cre­ates a direct path for stu­dent feed­back and point of view that is extremely ben­e­fi­cial to teach­ers and other adults. Adult guid­ance is key to mak­ing this stu­dent par­tic­i­pa­tion suc­cess­ful, since oth­er­wise stu­dents may find the meet­ings long and the process tedious. A great way to pre­pare stu­dents for col­lab­o­ra­tion with adults is through role-play. Meet with stu­dents reg­u­larly prior to and after meet­ings to dis­cuss progress and get their feedback.
  1. Day-to-Day activ­i­ties related to lap­top sup­port: Include stu­dents in var­i­ous roles sup­port­ing lap­top use. This can include basic tech­nol­ogy sup­port, teacher sup­port, build­ing class­room resources for teach­ers, or help­ing new users learn about their lap­tops. Stu­dent help can make the logis­tics of imple­ment­ing your pro­gram run more smoothly and may also ease new users’ anx­i­eties. Assem­ble a stu­dent tech team before you begin your pro­gram in order to train them on the hard­ware and soft­ware, as well as to famil­iar­ize them with new poli­cies. Once the lap­top ini­tia­tive becomes a real­ity, you will have an enthu­si­as­tic, trust­wor­thy stu­dent team rar­ing to go.

Tips for stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing in day-to-day lap­top support

  • Start with a smaller group and give them lim­ited, well-defined tasks. Take the time to get to know the stu­dents and estab­lish two-way trust.
  • Reward their hard work with recog­ni­tion, of course, but also more respon­si­bil­ity and trust. Find ways to chal­lenge stu­dents intel­lec­tu­ally and creatively.
  • Antic­i­pate strong stu­dent opin­ions. Encour­age stu­dents to share their ideas. Stu­dents who are ardent users of tech­nol­ogy will often have very strong opin­ions about cer­tain  hard­ware, soft­ware, or oper­at­ing sys­tems. Include these stu­dents in dis­cus­sions and decision-making when pos­si­ble. While their strong opin­ions may be annoy­ing at first, once won over, they can truly be your strongest allies!
  • Cre­ate a student-centered team. As stu­dents show capa­bil­ity, allow them to take on lead­er­ship tasks includ­ing men­tor­ing new stu­dents and plan­ning. This will dis­cour­age hack­ing by cre­at­ing own­er­ship and under­stand­ing of rules and policies.

For more tips, ideas, and case stud­ies of real schools where stu­dents sup­port lap­tops, see the full Gen­er­a­tion YES whitepa­per, Stu­dent Sup­port of Lap­top Pro­grams.

By Sylvia Mar­tinez
Pres­i­dent, Gen­er­a­tion YES

Blog Web­site Twit­ter

The Reality of Internet Access

One con­cern I hear quite often when dis­cussing one to one is that many fam­i­lies do not have access to the inter­net at home.  For that rea­son, many edu­ca­tors believe teach­ers should be very care­ful about the tasks they require stu­dents to com­plete at home.  I’ve heard one to one edu­ca­tors say they do not require stu­dents to do any­thing at home that requires the use of the inter­net.  Schools that do not chal­lenge stu­dents to use the inter­net at home are miss­ing much of what makes one to one so pow­er­ful, which is the abil­ity to instantly con­nect with other peo­ple and infor­ma­tion from around the world. 

Before school lead­ers develop poli­cies on what teach­ers should or should not assign stu­dents out­side of school, it is impor­tant they actu­ally know what per­cent­age of stu­dents have inter­net access.  An excel­lent way to gather this infor­ma­tion would be to sur­vey all of your stu­dents. The Pew His­panic Cen­ter recently pub­lished such a sur­vey by race and eth­nic­ity.

Picture 2
As you can see, the num­bers of inter­net users are extremely high.  A school with sim­i­lar results would be crazy to not allow teach­ers to assign tasks out­side of school that required the use of the inter­net.  Indi­vid­u­als may argue that some stu­dents would be left behind because they did not have inter­net access.  I would argue that the num­ber of stu­dents with­out inter­net access is so small that teach­ers could make accom­mo­da­tions for those few students. 

When I was a class­room teacher, I had a sim­i­lar per­cent­age of stu­dents that could not com­plete any assign­ments at home.  Their rea­sons for not com­plet­ing home­work var­ied, but the bot­tom line was it just didn’t get done.  I could have made the deci­sion to elim­i­nate home­work for all stu­dents, to elim­i­nate an unfair advan­tage,  or I could make accom­mo­da­tions for the very small per­cent­age that were unable to com­plete it.  You can guess which choice I made.

I hes­i­tated on using the word home­work in this post because of all of the heated debate about the actual mean­ing­ful­ness of home­work.  There has been a fair amount of research ques­tion­ing whether or not home­work has much of an impact on stu­dents at all.  As schools use their one to one tech­nol­ogy to assign mean­ing­ful tasks at home, I’m will­ing to bet we will also see more ben­e­fits of homework.


Reviewing 2009 and 1-to-1 Predictions

Last year I did that nutty out-on-a-limb thing some of us do and made eight pre­dic­tions for 2009 in my HotChalk col­umn — you can view the entire col­umn here.  Well, look­ing at just the head­ings — here’s where we seem to be.  

Ultra­mo­biles Adopted in More Schools
With the excep­tion of the name (most peo­ple are call­ing them “net­books”) this seems to have hap­pened.  There’s even a new Intel chip com­ing out that is going to allow more mem­ory and longer bat­tery use.  Win­dows 7 and Chrome offers a way to address the scrolling issue (the screen is an unusual size requir­ing you to scroll when view­ing Web pages unless you find a workaround); hope­fully we will see all the browsers issu­ing their own net­book ver­sion soon.  Net­books are still not full com­put­ers, how­ever, so schools look­ing to replace desk­tops or lap­tops and to use their net­books for mul­ti­me­dia edit­ing and sim­i­lar func­tions will be dis­ap­pointed.  For writ­ing, revis­ing, edit­ing, and using “cloud” appli­ca­tions such as Google docs, net­books offer a cost-effective solution.

Band­width Tack­led
This is on its way partly through stim­u­lus fund­ing and grants — it’s unclear how it will turn out. Band­width to the Inter­net in gen­eral is still not at the level where it could be — and many times band­width within schools is also less than use­ful.  This is com­pounded by the fact that many Amer­i­cans have high-speed Inter­net access in their own homes, in Inter­net cafes, and in libraries.  Chil­dren come to school expect­ing the same as do teach­ers and find they can­not surf and stream video and use the Inter­net in the same ad hoc fash­ion they’re learned.  

Obama Tran­si­tion Team Con­sid­ers a One-to-One Focus for Schools
This has not seemed to hap­pen quite so specif­i­cally, although the empha­sis on tech­nol­ogy given to edu­ca­tion stim­u­lus funds means a lot of 1-to-1 pilots have begun or are about to begin this year.

Cloud Com­put­ing and Por­tals More Widely Adopted
Judg­ing by list­serv and other con­ver­sa­tions, it does seem that Google apps and sim­i­lar cloud com­put­ing prod­ucts are tak­ing off, and many schools and dis­tricts are real­iz­ing the ben­e­fits of a school wide online learn­ing com­mu­nity or portal.  

Apple Tablet and Improved Ink­ing Tech­nol­ogy
It didn’t hap­pen in 2009 — but — it looks pretty good for 2010 accord­ing to reports sup­pos­edly to be announced Jan­u­ary 26, 2010.  If/when Apple does release a tablet, it will fol­low the most wide­spread and least expen­sive mar­ket­ing cam­paign in recent his­tory — just search on Apple tablet and see the buzz that’s been going on for oh at least sev­eral years.  Every­one is talk­ing about it, every­one seems to want it, no one has actu­ally seen one, and Apple is grin­ning like a Cheshire cat.

Vir­tual Schools Become the Newest large Con­sumers of One-to-One Hard­ware and Ser­vices
I think this is qui­etly hap­pen­ing because with­out 1-to-1 in some way vir­tual schools, true deliv­ery of edu­ca­tion to every stu­dent from his/her home, requires the stu­dent have his/her own com­puter.  The very nature of vir­tual learn­ing empha­sizes inde­pen­dent work, work­ing syn­chro­nous and asyn­chro­nously, and man­ag­ing time and dead­lines, mean­ing a ded­i­cated com­puter.  Vir­tual schools also are becom­ing the train­ing envi­ron­ment for the way peo­ple are work­ing today — with 35% of peo­ple with a bachelor’s degree doing some work at home - the inde­pen­dent, dis­ci­pline, and col­lab­o­ra­tion required for work­ing this way can be learned in vir­tual schools.

Mobile Labs Will Increase
This seems to be the case as schools con­tinue to pur­chase more mobile labs that “hard wired” labs espe­cially with the cost of mobile labs con­tin­u­ally decreasing.

Con­tin­u­ing Strained Bud­gets
The stim­u­lus money helped schools every­where but that won’t last for­ever.  Strained bud­gets will likely con­tinue for a while.

Best wishes for a truly Happy New Year!