5 Strategies For 1 to 1 Classroom Management

The fol­low­ing post was writ­ten by Rich Kiker who I was for­tu­nate to meet while in Philadel­phia for EduCon.

You may have heard already that dig­i­tal lit­er­acy and increased tech­ni­cal capac­ity are crit­i­cal com­po­nents of the K-12 edu­ca­tion.  I hap­pen to agree.  The prob­lem is that pub­lic edu­ca­tion hasn’t had suf­fi­cient means to put enough com­put­ing devices in the hands of stu­dents.  Com­put­ers have been expen­sive and if you have had a com­puter lab that you could visit with your class once a week then you had more than most.  Now with the evo­lu­tion of mobile plat­forms, net­books, tablets, and “Bring Your Own Tech­nol­ogy” pro­grams (like this one explained my @micwalker) there is a warm feel­ing in the edu­ca­tion com­mu­nity that mean­ing­ful 1 to 1 access in the class­room is pos­si­ble every­where. Teach­ers are excited, stu­dents are stoked, and tech­nol­ogy direc­tors are pet­ri­fied.  The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less includ­ing live streams from our class­rooms, social media at the hands of every learner, and every stu­dent becom­ing the smartest kid in school because she can search Google on her iPad. I am ener­gized that the promise of edu­ca­tional tech­nol­ogy — a world of con­nected learn­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tion, and cre­ative design to engage and impact stu­dent achieve­ment — may finally be mature enough to imple­ment in all classrooms.

But before we start the parade let’s take a step back. Not every teacher, in fact, most teach­ers are not ready and will need sig­nif­i­cant train­ing to pre­pare for this world.  Fur­ther­more, let’s be real­is­tic in that this tech­nol­ogy can cause sig­nif­i­cant dis­trac­tions in the class­room if we do not craft a man­age­ment plan that ensures appro­pri­ate use.  I have man­aged 1 to 1 depart­ments and class­rooms for seven years and I would like to share 5 ideas I have for cre­at­ing a suc­cess­ful, con­nected envi­ron­ment for learning.

1. Use a LMS
Learn­ing Man­age­ment Sys­tems are basi­cally online class­rooms.  They allow teach­ers to cre­ate a class­room web pres­ence and will greatly enhance acces­si­bil­ity to the cur­ricu­lum.  1 to 1 is not just about what hap­pens in the class­room but cre­at­ing a mobile envi­ron­ment to enhance learn­ing with 24/7 access. A LMS will improve class­room orga­ni­za­tion, help stu­dents when they miss class, inher­ently build dig­i­tal lit­er­acy, and add many more ben­e­fits. There are the big play­ers like Moo­dle that are incred­i­bly pow­er­ful but can be a chal­lenge to admin­is­ter. If that is not your fla­vor, look into some free and sta­ble web options.  I used Edmodo for years and the more I used it the more dynamic my class became — not  to men­tion that other teach­ers saw how easy it was to use and began using it them­selves. Score.

2. Have a Class­room AUP
Step one: Make sure your school has a strong Accept­able Use Pol­icy.  A good AUP is crit­i­cal because it will sup­port you with behav­ior con­se­quences in the event that a stu­dent inap­pro­pri­ately uses her access.  I‘m a real­ist and stu­dents will mis­be­have with tech­nol­ogy.  The AUP, with clear expec­ta­tions, pro­vides fair guide­lines that can help ensure tech­nol­ogy is being used for edu­ca­tional pur­poses and keep a safe learn­ing envi­ron­ment for every­one.   If your school does not have one or you think it is weak, talk to your prin­ci­pal and ramp it up.  See these tips on AUPs from EdWeek and the Uni­ver­sity of San Diego.  The AUP will be incred­i­bly impor­tant dur­ing the roll­out of a 1 to 1 pro­gram.  That being said, the AUP may still not address all the pieces you need in your class­room.  Set up your per­sonal class­room rules to sup­ple­ment the efforts of the AUP.  Con­sider includ­ing pieces like “no tech­nol­ogy dur­ing dis­cus­sions” or “no more than 5 min­utes on email per class period”.  Keep your class­room dynamic but still man­age it the best way that works for you while pro­mot­ing stu­dent success.

3. Move to the Cloud
Again, the goal should be to use mobile devices and cre­ate mobile plat­forms for learn­ing. The LMS will get you started but it also becomes frus­trat­ing if the pro­duc­tiv­ity suite that you use needs to be installed, needs ver­sions coor­di­nated, and is unaf­ford­able to stu­dents.  Sure, access to these tools is avail­able at school but how would that be mobile?  My rec­om­men­da­tion would be to con­nect with Google Apps for Edu. This free suite con­tin­ues to expand in fea­tures and has been adopted by sev­eral state depart­ments of edu­ca­tion.  It meets the needs of file man­age­ment, sched­ul­ing, data stor­age, col­lab­o­ra­tion, and many more in a we-based option.  Learn more from the Google Apps and Apps Cer­ti­fied Trainer YouTube channels.

4. Be a Stew­ard of Tech­nol­ogy
The prin­ci­ples of good teach­ing do not change and mod­el­ing is one of those basic tech­niques that can effec­tively impact a stu­dent.  As edu­ca­tors we are charged with the respon­si­bil­ity of being change agents.  If we are going to ensure the adop­tion of pos­i­tive neti­quette by our stu­dents, then we need to dis­play these actions for them.  I am not say­ing that teach­ers should “friend” their stu­dents or post to social net­works a hun­dred times a day. In fact, I would dis­cour­age this prac­tice, when would you find time to teach? I am say­ing that teach­ers need to be hon­est.  Say some­thing like this to your students:

This stuff is new to me and I don’t know it all.  But I am excited to learn it and I know that it empow­ers you as learn­ers.  There­fore, I am will­ing to embrace tech­nol­ogy because I know it will make your edu­ca­tion more valuable.”

Yup, tell them that a teacher doesn’t know every­thing, put your­self in a vul­ner­a­ble posi­tion.  At the same time you will build a cul­ture of hon­esty, a value for life-long learn­ing, and dis­play a trans­par­ent and vested inter­est in the suc­cess of your stu­dents. Try new web tools from Go2Web20, join a Ning, and if you are really brave go to a edu­ca­tional tweetup. If it fails mis­er­ably then stand up, dust your­self off and be proud of your­self for try­ing some­thing and tak­ing a risk for your stu­dents. That is the worst that can hap­pen. But what if it is a huge success?

5. Weekly Dig­i­tal Cit­i­zen­ship
Lastly, make the endur­ing under­stand­ing of dig­i­tal cit­i­zen­ship a reg­u­lar com­po­nent in your class­room.  No mat­ter what your sub­ject, there is an oppor­tu­nity to pro­mote proper and mean­ing­ful use.  Our roles as edu­ca­tors will not be fully real­ized unless we are able to guide stu­dents toward becom­ing skilled and capa­ble cit­i­zens with an appre­ci­a­tion for knowl­edge. Lever­age resources that we know well like TED Talks and The Do Lec­tures. Per­haps you can pull the RSS feed from Mashable’s Social Good or Big Think and have stu­dents fol­low them. There are plenty of options for you to choose from.  I can tell you that as I made more efforts to increase my own capac­ity it was evi­dent that my stu­dents were ener­gized from it. Pulling con­tent and resources from all of these great sites helped me learn and engaged my audi­ence.  It kept my class­room vibrant and fresh and I hope you have the same experience.

Rich Kiker is an Instruc­tional Tech­nol­ogy & Design Con­sul­tant and Google Apps Cer­ti­fied Trainer spe­cial­iz­ing in  pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment for new media, web appli­ca­tions, 1:1 com­put­ing, online learn­ing, and tech­nol­ogy path­ways. For­merly a Media Tech­nol­ogy Chair and Tech­nol­ogy Coor­di­na­tor, he is now a con­sul­tant for sev­eral edu­ca­tional agen­cies, school dis­tricts, and a pro­fes­sor of instruc­tional tech­nol­ogy.  For more infor­ma­tion or to fol­low up please visit www.kikerlearning.com or he is also on Twit­ter with the user­name @rkiker.


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