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You’ve gone 1:1. Now what?

By Team ISTE 3/4/2015 Mobile learning

To bring technology to students, many schools are adopting 1:1 initiatives – one device, usually a laptop or tablet, for each student.

While there is a lot of advice on how to go 1:1 in a classroom or school, Jennifer LaMaster, assistant principal at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Indiana, discovered there is very little information out there about what happens after each child has access to a device.

“For most schools, going to 1:1 is a year process,” she explained. “You put all this energy into it, all this finance gets going, the kids get their devices, and then suddenly, you’re thinking, ‘Now what do we do?’”

In her webinar, So You've Gone 1:1: What Now?, LaMaster will focus on three areas to explain how 1:1 can – and will – change the teaching experience. These areas are physical, virtual and cultural.

Rethink the classroom setup

As soon as every student has a device in hand, the traditional desk setup no longer works, LaMaster said. Every will likely need to be reconfigured.

“Learning spaces need to become more flexible in order to allow students to work in groups,” she explained.

Also, teachers are no longer the center of the learning experience because the children have the content in their hands. The challenge then becomes making classrooms collaborative spaces.

“Within three months, most teachers discover that their physical classrooms and lab spaces don’t work anymore, and that surprises a lot of people.”

Create a robust virtual experience

Devices, whether laptops or tablet, offer countless tools for learning, but it is up to teachers and schools to make sure students have access to the right tools for their needs. That means re-evaluating the school’s own virtual presence, with improved websites and applications that are accessible, easy to use and vetted.

“You are going to want a much more robust virtual experience than most schools are ready for,” LaMaster said. The demand for this will come from the students themselves, and don’t be surprised if they take matters into their own hands. For example, the students in her school said they needed a school app that had all the information they needed. A student created the app and because it was from a student’s perspective, it fit their needs much better than what was initially available.

Prepare for distractions

Just because a student has a device doesn’t mean human interaction ends. “The kids shouldn’t be staring at the device all the time,” LaMaster warned.

The challenge in 1:1 is keeping true to the overall mission of the school when introducing what could be very disruptive technology. Educators will have to find a balance of guiding positive growth among their students and the how the technology fits into the classroom environment. “Sometimes you have to turn the device off, and that’s OK,” LaMaster said. “You want the kids to be present in the moment.”

LaMaster also pointed out that 1:1 can change the way schools address professional development. “Before we went 1:1 in my school, we talked about issues like how lesson plans might change or how you troubleshoot issues with the device,” she said. “After a year, we realized teachers wanted professional development on distractions, something we are all struggling with.”

In addition to these three areas of focus, LaMaster plans to address the following issues in her upcoming ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar:

  • Developing a clear objective for 1:1, and sticking to it.
  • Preparing for surprises.
  • Listening to student needs.
  • Planning for costs, which are sometimes more than expected.

To learn more about 1:1 implementation issues, check out La Master’s webinar tomorrow

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