Last year, we rolled the program to both 6th and 9th grade families, still keeping access to a device optional. 62% of the families participated in the Webstore, and we continued our march toward 1:1 computing.
See my post from last year on results of our surveys.
Based on those survey results, this year, we made a few changes that have yielded big results.
- We declared that all students are required to have a device for their learning
- We set a minimum standard that the device run the Chrome Browser and have a keyboard
- We declared that Moodle and Google Apps were our "ecosystem."
- We opened up the Webstore to all secondary grades that had not yet had the opportunity to access it. In all, 3 grades participated, and purchased 1233 devices.
- For those families who chose not to purchase a device, we provided a Chromebook.
- We declared that a cell phone is may not be used as the primary device, and that cell phones would only be used at teacher discretion. (Let's face it, it is hard to have students take pictures/video with a Chromebook!)
This took away the barrier where teachers felt they didn't need to incorporate devices because not all students had one, and the one where students felt they didn't need to bring a device, because not all teachers were incorporating them.
In our survey, we asked students how has access to a device impacted their learning? 81% responded with a positive comment, including that it was faster, easier, more efficient, more fun AND they used the word, "personalized." Those who responded with a negative comment primarily talked about how the device could be a distraction at times. While these numbers are down from the previous year, remember that last year, bringing a device was optional, and now it is required. Many students commented that their grades were higher than they had ever been.
We are excited that a majority of students feel positive about how the program is impacting their learning, however some students talked about liking to take notes on paper and being told they had to do it online, while others discussed being told they HAD to take notes on paper, and how frustrating it was. As Pernille Ripp notes in this excellent post, students need to have some say in the tools that will work best for their learning, and teachers need to give them that freedom to personalize their experience.
The majority of staff have found ways to incorporate student devices in their instruction daily or weekly. Staff also noted shifts in pedagogy:
I spend a lot of time creating learning experiences that use technology in new ways instead of just linking pdf copies of worksheets to Moodle. I have attempted to give students more opportunities to CREATE with the use of their devices.
I am able to collect formative data much more readily than I was prior to the one-to-one initiative. I regularly have students using their devices to access assignments, interact with simulations, contribute to class discussions/learning, etc.
It allows me to plan lessons without worrying about the computer lab schedule. Technology is something that we use on a daily basis. Sometimes we use it for 5 minutes, and sometimes we use it for 50 minutes.
But not everyone is happy:
I now spend significantly less time on teaching, and much more time responding to students' heroin level addiction to the dopamine surges they experience from constantly being glued to digital addiction. I am a less effective educator because we have sold our souls to the new sexy thing.
We have encouraged staff to have students get devices out when they need them, and put them away when they don't, but sometimes finding that balance between classroom management needs and the needs of the student get in the way. While the data on the right says that the majority of staff have a positive attitude about the program, we have some work to do to support all staff as we move forward.
Our parent survey notes that 77% of parents feel that we should continue eLearning2. Many talked about how their family computer wasn't being fought over, that their student was more organized, and they saw them creating content to demonstrate their learning. For the 23% who were opposed, some felt it had become a distraction for their child, that the district should just provide a device for each student, or that using the Chromebook and Google Apps for Education was not preparing their child for the "real world!" In many ways, this reminds me of the folks who complained that schools were using Apple products in the 1990's. Google notes that 66 of the top 100 colleges and universities on US News and World Report's list use Apps for Education.
This data gives us good feedback as we move forward with the program. It was rewarding to see so many students talk about the positive impact eLearning2 has had on their learning experience, and hear them point out ways that they are accessing content, collaborating, and creating. Still, we also know that we have work ahead to insure that ALL students and staff are incorporating digital age learning when it makes sense to do so, in a way that enhances the learning experience, and mitigates the negative aspects of technology.