I’m excited to be on my way to my third Great Lakes 1:1 Computing Conference which will be held at Lake Geneva this year. The sessions for the past two years have been fantastic. Breakout sessions are generally fairly small and personal.The conference is small enough that it is extremely easy to network with other one-to-one educators. I met many of the experts I turn to when I have concerns or questions about one-to-one issues at this conference.
If you are unable to attend the conference, you can still benefit from their wiki which will continue to get more robust throughout the conference. You can also follow the conversation with the hashtag #gl121. I’m also going to attempt to ustream a session from 2:00–3:00 on Friday at this link. If ustream and bandwidth cooperate, the session will also be available to view at any time. The session will be a Q & A session with one-to-one educators.
A recent report that was released entitled Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning focuses on the impact of online learning around the country. That report along with a 2009 Department of Education report are possibly the two largest as well as most current studies analyzing the impact of online learning. Two findings jump out at me from those studies.
- The number of students taking online courses is growing quickly, and it will continue to do so.
- Student performance in online learning is similar to performance in face-to-face courses.
The first finding is certainly not surprising to any of you involved with education. The second finding may actually be a bit understated. A 2009 study from the U.S. Department of Education that analyzed a large number of online learning studies indicated that classes with online learning, whether completely online or blended, produced stronger learning outcomes than classes with solely face-to-face instruction. Other studies have found similar results. Certainly, this doesn’t indicate that simply creating online courses produces superior results. It also doesn’t indicate that online learning produces WORSE results as many would argue. Like many forms of instruction, it isn’t about the medium for delivery of instruction, but rather the strategies and methodologies used for instruction. I have actually spoken with many veteran teachers who have reflected that online learning has really made them think closely about their delivery and pedagogy. Those reflections have forced them to become very deliberate at creating online environments with certain components that they viewed as powerful teaching techniques. In turn, they created very meaningful learning environments.
The Keeping Pace study is certainly worth taking a look at. Although the report is quite long, it provides a short assessment for each state. I’d recommended taking a look at your state, and comparing it to others. As a one-to-one educator, how are you involved with online learning? Do your students participate in blended learning environments?
There is so much power and potential in having every student have a digital device available for school or home use. It means having at the student’s fingertips nearly any resource for writing, publishing, researching, planning, graphing, editing, sharing, and collaborating. It also means all these resources along with the files and work created by the student are completely mobile and available as needed. Teachers in 1-to-1 environments no longer need to distribute resources and collect them later, and therefore can relinquish their roles as the sole disseminators of knowledge. Nothing jumpstarts student-centered learning like 1-to-1.
Unless 1-to-1 happens to be solely about having a device to follow along with a teacher.
There are schools where 1-to-1 is about a teacher using a projector and bringing up a worksheet while students, using their own digital devices, follow along at their own desks with their own electronic copies of the worksheets. Where students do not have the opportunity to explore or collaborate but still face front in desks in rows, albeit desks with laptops or tablets on them. Where teacher-centered learning is automated and facilitated so that worksheets aren’t handed out anymore but still are integral to learning. Where students aren’t asked to be part of the planning or the ideas of the school, in spite of being the stakeholders with the most at stake in terms of their futures.
But there are also schools where students create something new and different and where teachers have adapted to the role of co-learner and where thinking and projects and collaboration flourish.
It’s the nature of schools that material and content must be learned so there is a place for different delivery and methodology. Sometimes students do face front and there is whole class instruction needed even in the most effective and student-centered spaces.
But if 1-to-1 is totally and completely, without exception, in every learning space about teacher-centered instruction — is it truly worth the time, energy, and cost?
- Pam Livingston
A research brief that I co-authored with Scott McLeod was recently released as a CASTLE brief. The brief can be found here, and it summarizes much of the relevant research around one-to-one. It is a fairly quick read at just over five pages. Enjoy!