My last post focused on how important leadership is in a 1:1 initiative. The following video is my virtual conversation about leadership to a group of leaders who are implementing a large 1:1 deployment in their district.
The more I work with 1:1 schools, the more I am convinced of the absolute importance of leadership with the transition to a 1:1 environment. Without solid leadership, great teachers are forced to connect with others outside of the school walls to improve their skills. That isn’t a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be the only way they can improve as educators. Other less ambitious educators are left muddling around trying to use these “new” devices to do old things. So what can leaders do to make the transition more successful?
Clearly establish and communicate the reason that the school has become 1:1.
If there isn’t a clear and convincing vision, many educators will become frustrated with the first roadblock (Bad connectivity, broken device, etc.) they encounter.
Parents, teachers, and students should all understand why this large investment was made!
Provide resources to all teachers.
Professional development should not be one size fits all. Both the high flyers and those who struggle with technology need personalized PD.
Consider that different teachers and departments may have unique needs in regards to their software and hardware.
Provide feedback about the ways that technology is being used.
As the saying goes, “what matters gets measured”. Provide teachers with feedback about the ways they are using technology.
Allow teachers to observe other teachers using technology in powerful ways.
Establish a common language about how technology can enhance learning.
This point aligns closely with vision, but I think it is very important. Personally, I like using this framework to discuss the ways technology is being used.
Establish core competencies for teachers around the use of technology. Leaders can then operate with the assumption that all teachers know how to use and can discuss empowering uses with those technology skills.
Create policies that empower rather than hinder the use of technology.
Be extremely thoughtful about the policies you enact! Too often policies are put in place as a reactionary measure to one incident.
Consider the pros and cons before making policies, procedures, and rules regarding the use of technology.
Give teachers and students a voice!
If you want true support, your best allies will be your students and teachers. Let them provide meaningful direction to your 1:1 program.
You can’t successfully lead a 1:1 initiative without support from others. Use the experts in your building!
As you read this list, you may recognize that many of these things aren’t unique to a 1:1 initiative. Many of these recommendations are simply good leadership! However, they are overlooked way too often.
Over the past four years I’ve had the opportunity to work with teams of administrators and teachers from around the country. I’ve heard about many of the challenges they face integrating technology as well as many of their successes. One of the simplest lessons I’ve learned in that work is in the value of time to collaborate on a focused topic. Unfortunately, if teams do have time to collaborate, that time is often used to address the burning issue of the day or week. Although those issues are certainly important and may keep the ship from sinking, they don’t always move things forward.
How can your school create time that focuses specifically on ways to use technology to enhance the educational experience for your students? I’ve heard some great recommendations from colleagues around the globe. The most common theme that has come out of those sessions is a dedicated time slot with a focused theme. Schools often do a poor job recognizing all of the experts that work within the school walls. Having conversations locally also certainly increases the likelihood that the presenter will understand the context of the school! A couple of the more creative meetings I’ve heard described are:
Muggers meeting-A voluntary meeting with coffee and donuts provided where teachers share a technology tool that is working well for them.
Appy hour-A voluntary meet up of teachers to discuss apps that they use.
I’m teaching a course this semester that includes components related to data driven decision-making and learning management systems. The students enrolled in the class are part of our school technology leadership Ph.D. cohort. The students are school administrators, teachers, and university staff. I’ve been trying to recruit LMS providers to speak to my class this Saturday and have been somewhat amazed by the responses. After cold calling multiple vendors, I certainly get a sense of the differences in customer service at the various companies. Some are extremely helpful and seem happy to chat and there were others who simply failed to respond to a call.
This experience has me thinking about the type of customer service that schools provide to teachers, parents, and students. In particular, I wonder what type of customer service your technology department provides. I’ve worked and chatted with many teachers and students who avoid their technology department at all costs. They fear the belittling attitudes or being put down for not knowing something “simple”. These technology departments actually hinder teachers’ experimentation with technology. However, there are other technology directors and departments that create a totally positive environment. As a teacher, I was brave enough to experiment with technology and that often led to problems with technology that I wasn’t able to solve by myself. I was fortunate to have a tech director who was always very responsive to my tech problems. He seemed to appreciate the fact that I was exploring new territory, and he actually encouraged me. His attitude certainly led to continued tech integration in my classroom. I wonder how different my approach to technology may have been had he responded differently. How is the customer service in your technology department? How is the customer service at your school?
On Monday I hosted a webinar for the University of Kentucky’s Next Generation Leadership Academy. Tracy Watanabe led the one hour session which was titled Using Technology to Transform Learning. You can view the entire session here. I had the opportunity to meet and work with Tracy and her colleague Jon Castelhano a few years ago prior to their implementation of a 1:1 program. Since that time, I’ve monitored their transition from afar and have been very impressed with the changes that have taken place. The webinar was a great way for me to learn about many of the things they have put in place to maximize the results of their 1:1 program. Below I’ve described some of the major things that stood out from Tracy’s presentation. However, I’d still encourage you to take the time to listen and learn from the webinar yourself.
Leadership: Tracy was part of a very strong leadership team who were very committed to transforming the learning experience for their school. However, this doesn’t necessarily set their school apart from other schools. What did make them different is that they also created a formal network for developing other leaders. They created a team of collaborative coaches (teachers) based on a Peer-Ed model. The training for the coaches was very systematic. By creating this much larger leadership team, it appears that true changes could reach a “critical mass” much easier.
Pedagogy: Rather than focusing just on the technology, Tracy’s school really focused on effective instruction. It appeared that even their PD was very integrated. Tracy talked about how they would first talk about pedagogy and then think about ways technology could enhance or enrich teacher’s methods. Although this may seem apparent to many of us, few schools seem to be doing this well. Does all PD in your school consider ways technology can enhance a teaching strategy?
Modeling: Tracy has truly been a model learner for others in her school. She has created a blog that goes beyond just technology. She also has used technology to enhance learning groups with tools such as diigo where she has created multiple groups. Groups then share valuable resources with other group members.
It is certainly worth your time to watch this webinar. You can also view resources from the webinar at this link. There are take-aways that can help impact 1:1 schools at various levels of implementation. Happy viewing!
On April 4, nearly 1300 educators attended the Iowa 1:1 Institute in Des Moines, Iowa. Throughout the day there were approximately 100 different sessions focused on a wide variety of topics. As I made my rounds during the conference, I was able to pop my head in and listen briefly to many of the sessions. One thing that truly astounded me was the collective wisdom of the group. At any given time there were a very diverse set of presentations taking place covering very different topics. Although I am a big fan of creating virtual professional learning networks, the value of a conference such as this is also apparent to me. For some, the day is a great way to become immersed in the world of 1:1 schools. For other veteran 1:1 educators, it is a great way to connect with others in a similar place and discuss ways to keep moving forward.
If you were unable to attend, please check-out our wiki where presenters posted their resources. You can also follow the conversations that took place with our twitter hashtag (#i11i). There are also a couple of additional 1:1 conferences that would be great ways to continue to move your initiative forward.
The Iowa 1:1 Institute is now just over one week away! We have released our session schedule, and are excited to have 100 sessions throughout the day. Once again, we have had a great registration and we expect approximately 1000 attendees. However, there is still time to register if you’d like to attend. We’re also pleased to have a large number of vendors who allow us to keep the registration cost to only $50/participant. There are two major changes to the conference format that we hope will strengthen the conference.
We will now offer role-alike sessions throughout the day. Those sessions will have facilitators who will direct the conversation in each role-alike. Role-alike sessions are designed as a place for educators with similar job responsibilities to discuss the successes and challenges they’ve had with their 1:1 program.
Thanks to those of you who have helped to make this conference possible once again! We hope that it can be a great learning experience for those educators who are novice or veteran 1:1 educators.
Develop a plan for implementation of your initiative
Create a clear plan that lays out your 1:1 plan and includes components for required steps for implementation and evaluation.
This tool created by John Nash is an extremely useful tool for any major change in a school!
Create and deliver professional development
Professional development sessions need to begin PRIOR to launching your initiative.
Differentiate professional development for educators.
Create the capacity of educators in your school to deliver professional development.
Identify a core set of competencies around technology that all teachers should have and help them gain those competencies! It may be helpful to identify a core set of technology tools that EVERY educator could use fluently.
It seems absolutely crazy that schools invest hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in technology, but refuse to spend any substantial amount on professional development.
You may also want to consider visiting this blog focused on one school’s journey through the process.
Update: This form was created by @tracywatanabe, and it may help you with this process.
The expectation that students will develop to direct and own their learning and assume responsibility for themselves and their communities. Student agency is both a means to college and career readiness and a competency that is part of being a college and career ready individual.
Student choice and voice are certainly part of student agency, but this definition includes student responsibility as a key component. When thinking about student agency, the amount of student ownership could certainly vary widely. I’ve categorized a couple of possible examples of student agency from mild to wild. The wild ideas are certainly a bit more challenging to implement!
Let students take responsibility for how they will share their learning with you. Create a rubric that clearly identifies learning goals and guidelines. Students can then choose the medium to demonstrate their knowledge. That might be a report, blog, video, podcast, prezi, song, or presentation. It could also be a medium unfamiliar to you. The success of this project will be dependent on your rubric!
Have students create a plan for creating a positive digital presence for your school. Allow students to implement that plan!
Share end of unit objectives with students. Allow students to create their own learning plan that must include a demonstration showing that they have mastered the content. The plan should also include the steps students will use to gain that knowledge. This would certainly be easier in some courses than others!
Give students freedom each week to explore a topic of their choosing. I recently finished Daniel Pink’s book Drive which highlighted the successes many companies have had with allowing employees to explore a topic of their own choosing.
Recently, I led an ISTE webinar focused on digital citizenship for a small group of educators. My session didn’t focus on all of the bad things students and teachers can get into with technology, but instead the ways they can use technology to enhance their learning and teaching experiences. I’m certainly not insinuating that schools should ignore teaching about those negative aspects of technology. Students need to be aware of the impact that their online activities can have. However, it does seem that much of our focus when discussing digital citizenship focuses on those negative experiences. My presentation focused on the ways teachers and students are using technology in powerful ways. The examples below were some of the ones that I shared, and you can get the full list here.
Classroom blogs-These two examples (example 1&example 2) highlight how elementary classroom teachers created a blog and gave their students a wider audience. With the help of Quad blogging and edublogs, their class blog has had nearly 4,000 views from around the world!
Facebook–This example is a high school teacher who uses facebook as one way to connect with his students. By the looks of the page, it is certainly effective.
Diigo–This diigo group was created by a tech integration coach, and it is used as a way for teams to gather resources together.
Twitter–Twitter chats are a great way to share and gather valuable resources and information. This kindergarten chat is just one example.
Podcasts–These were created by elementary students, and then merged together for one master class podcast. They certainly sound very professional!
When making decisions about the use of technology in schools, educators need to balance the pros and cons of different types of technology use. Too often, decisions are made because of the possibility of a small group of students behaving inappropriately. Unfortunately, those decisions also limit the benefits that many other students would have had.