Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Iowa 1:1 Institute: The Un-Session Conversation

During session 3 at the Iowa 1:1 Institute I decided to move from presentation to conversation mode.

I joined Dr. Scott McLeod, Dr. John Nash, Dr. Jeanette Westfall, Dr. Michael Gielniak and a few other educators to share our experiences both positive and negative with 1:1 learning.

Sustainability

I was curious as to how all of the districts represented here today in Des Moines could afford to be moving to 1:1 learning. How were they sustaining it? It turns out, Iowa has a 1 cent sales tax for education that can be used for capital and technology. If a district has all of their buildings in good working order, they can focus those dollars on technology.This is how they are funding all of the 1:1 initiatives on display here in Des Moines

I shared our struggles with how we might expand or even sustain our 1:1 initiative. McLeod mentiond that a Means test model could work, where the district provides laptops to those that can’t afford them. He also mentioned a model being used by the Lemon Grove, California School District, where they provide students with a thin client device. They also are the main ISP provider for the community, with Wireless access points from each school. The rationale was that the students needed access to learn, so they provided it for the community. This presentation shares more about this initiative.

High School

Dr. Jeanette Westfall, a principal from Missouri, shared her experience as the educational leader in a building w/ 50% poverty that became a technology magnet. They have been moving towards 1:1 for the last few years under the leadership of Sean Nash, who has been working on PD with staff on constructivist pedagogy.

They are looking at 1:1 but struggling with the evaluation process.

They currently have 500 computers on carts in their building. She mentioned many pitfalls of using carts! (Management, equity in the building, etc.)

They have an open cell phone policy. They can use them in class, the halls, at lunch, but if the teacher doesn’t want them on it, they can be taken away. She said that if she walks in to a classroom and the kids are on their cell phone, she has more of an issue with the teacher than the student! Her school’s policies can be found at Virtual South Side, a Ning site for educators in her building.

She talked about kids walking in with 3G coverage who are circumventing the network filters. Her district attorney advocates for no cell phones. Dr. Mcleod commented “Get an attorney that understands how they can be used effectively!"

Dr. Nash talked about Van Meter Schools wanting their students being more engaged. They used walk through data for evidence of the shift in teaching pedagogy. This might be another method for us to evaluate our program.

McLeod talked about a survey he gave administrators to rate their district on 14 desirable learning characteristics. It turns out these characteristics were found in role playing games that kids are playing 15 hours a week!

Electronic problem solving is much higher with a group of people

I shared a quote from Valley View English teacher, Heidi Degener, who noted during one of our Community of Practice sessions this year that our students have grown up using technology for play, and teachers have mostly used technology for work. We have to teach students how to use the technology for learning/work.

Mcleod noted: "Kids use the computers for learning all the time, not just for what we think they should be learning!"

Gielniak: “Ah, the Texas conversation!”

Nash said Amy Hutchinson at Iowa State focussed her dissertation on use of tech and the gap.

Dayna Boyd also has some good info on this.

She notes:

Just because many of today’s youth are growing up in a society dripping with technology does not mean that they inherently know how to use it. They don’t.

Also in the room was a young math teacher,
Rick Kolbet of Clayton Ridge HS in Guttenberg IA looking at moving to 1:1 this fall. He said, “I want to be a teacher, not a police officer” “ I don’t want the pressure of using it every day!” I remember hearing some of those same comments a year ago as we struggled with policies for our laptops. Steve Dikkers, also from Clayton Ridge commented later that "
Two months ago he was EXTREMELY skeptical about our proposed 1:1 initiative. Now he is one of its biggest proponents."

McLeod suggested the “Moving Forward Wiki” that allows you to connect with educators doing the same thing you’re doing. There’s a community of people out there all over the world, interested in learning with you!

Twitter4Teachers is another way to connect with other teachers who teach in your subject area.

Having a network of people whether face to face or virtual is invaluable to support the challenges of 1:1 learning and instruction!

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