This is an excerpt from an article by Fred Sitkins for the August issue of the Edudemic Magazine. It takes a detailed look at what you should know (and may not yet know) about 1:1 classrooms. Be sure to download the free app and grab the latest issue of the magazine (less than the price of a cup of coffee!)
In case you haven’t noticed yet, we are in the midst of the largest technological revolution in decades. The proliferation of wireless computing and personal technological devices capable of accessing the world has created a new landscape that schools must be aware of now. This isn’t like the other waves that have come across the proverbial bow of education.
Whole language, phonics, “new” math, you name it. Most of the proposed solutions to education’s woes have simply been a twist on the old way of doing things. This technological revolution is different; it has the potential to fundamentally change the way we teach and the way students learn. If done correctly, it can re-define the old way of teaching and provide the means for teachers to truly look at all we have done before through a new student centered lens. At the root of this change for schools is the idea of a 1:1 program.
A 3-Part Series
I would take that one step further and state that if any school considers a 1:1 program the iPad should be the device of choice. This is the first article in a 3-part series discussing the importance of a 1:1 iPad initiative. The argument for why the iPad over other personal devices will be saved for the second article in this series.
The reasons for insisting that a 1:1 program is critical are many, but perhaps the strongest rationale is the reality of this picture. This is the world our youth live in.
The Sad Reality Of EdTech
The sad reality is that most schools still believe that they are “teaching with technology” because they have a computer lab where they teach students important skills like word processing and how to create Power Point presentations. This may have been a worthwhile skill to teach 15 years ago, but the fact that we haven’t adapted as technology has is a clear example of how slow schools are to respond to the changing needs of our students.
Today’s technology provides the opportunity for students to access endless amounts of information on any topic taught in our schools. It’s no longer about who has the most information in their heads, it’s about who can find that information the fastest and who can do something with the information that they find. If we truly want to prepare our students for the future they will live in, we need to teach them how to find information and more importantly what to do with the information that they find. The only way to do this is to make the fundamental change from teaching how to use technology to using technology to learn.
Fundamentally Flawed Model
If schools see the importance of using technology to learn, then the only real way to accomplish this goal is to provide that technology to all students all the time. We are fooling ourselves if we believe that we can accomplish this goal by sending students to a computer lab a couple days each week or an hour each day for that matter. Until we place technology in the hands of each student, our teaching models won’t change. Our schools still function under the belief that the teacher or the textbook is the keeper of all knowledge and that the teacher’s role is to disseminate that knowledge to their students.
This model is fundamentally flawed because it teaches our students to be passive participants in the learning process. Under this traditional model, students sit and wait for the teacher to provide them with their great knowledge. Our students learn quickly that they don’t really have a role to play in this process other than to wait for someone else to give them information. If they don’t get it, they just wait a little while longer and they will get more information, help, clues, whatever it takes.
Our teachers on the other hand are working incredibly hard under this model. The teachers I know break their backs each and every day spinning plates in an attempt to help their students learn.
They are all concerned about the fact that our students don’t try hard, appear disengaged, and don’t seem to care. I believe one of the greatest changes we could/should make would be to hand over some of the responsibility of learning to our students.
With the advent of personal technology devices, we have the best opportunity of our careers to help students become more active participants in the learning process.
Want to read the rest of this article? Check out the Edudemic Magazine here and have your say down in the comments!
Fred Z. Sitkins is an elementary school principal in Boyne City, MI. Check him out at www.ipadpd.com