Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Planning for a 1:1 Initiative

More from Livingston's 1:1 Learning - Laptop Programs That Work:

Planning for a 1:1 initiative is obviously critical, but it is complex as well. Livingston uses the phrase "not driven by nuts and bolts, but a vision of what to accomplish." Which is well said. Often schools become too focused on which type of computer and applications instead of the reason why you are going 1:1 in the first place.

Planning starts with a committee, and the committee must have a strong leader. The leader is one who is passionate about the move, dedicated to see it work effectively even if that means she will be doing the heavy lifting herself, and most importantly have the trust of the teachers. In the schools Livingston highlights in the book, that leader has always had one foot in education and one foot in technology. The lack of a strong leader (at least one dedicated to a 1:1 initiative) will be what keeps most schools from making the leap.

Next, the committee should be determined. Many schools make the mistake of putting only the tech-savvy go-getters on this committee. The committee should see representation from all viewpoints, with the possible exception of outright naysayers. One school included a teacher near retirement on the committee. She wasn't objecting to the movement, but she did raise concerns, such as "You're asking teachers to have students save their work on the server. I don't know how to do that." Having that voice on the committee allowed the committee to make sure it addressed those concerns, and it gained a lot more credence during conversations with the whole staff. And in addition to teachers, the committee should have representation from parents, community members, and most importantly, students as well. Whatever the committee is, it should not be the old tech committee.

Livingston mentions the committee will meet "to provide vision, formulate, decide, detail, market, implement, oversee, and assess." Everything the committee plans or discusses should be documented.

After the committee is created and starts their discussion, the next critical step is to survey other 1:1 schools. Livingston recommended one way of defusing the anxiety over which computer to choose is to ask current 1:1 districts a) why they chose their platform, and b) would they do it again.

Livingston's book goes into good detail about each of the next steps in planning, which we'll look at more in future posts:
  • Professional Development
  • Implementation Logistics
  • Pedagogical Theory
  • Classroom Management & Policies
  • Communication with the Public

Some other items for the committee to consider:
  • Keep in mind the educational age and SES of the students who will receive the laptops. One of the most common questions is whether students would have internet access outside of school, a must to fully tap the potential of a 1:1 environment.
  • Think about how technology integration has worked or not worked in the past. Those mistakes will be magnified when every student has a laptop.
  • Consider how other change initiatives were addressed, and why they were successful or not.

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