We are soon to enter the first full year of 1:1 at our school. We will be using a combination of chromebooks, iPads and iPods and every student will have access to a device every day. Our junior students (grades 4-6) will be required to bring their devices home every night.
We started with some training last year in preparation for 1:1. We worked on Google tools and our staff is now comfortable with Google Drive, Docs, Groups and a number of important apps like Read and Write. We connected to Discovery Education and we really hope to have access to the Science Techbook for all our students this year.
My main concern as the principal is to continue to offer high quality training and support for all staff so that it is easy to make a complete switch to using devices every day in meaningful ways throughout the year.
It is one thing – pretty easy – to supply every child with a device. It is a far more difficult thing to provide the individualized training each staff member needs to make implementation effective. Wherever staff start the year on the SAMR scale, it will be important to see movement as the year progresses.
So, how do we meet this challenge?
Our School Improvement Plan emphasis is digital integration, but teachers need direction on how to find resources. We need a resource that is flexible and allows teachers to continue learning at their own pace throughout the year. We need a system that respects the adult learner and allows easy access to excellent material.
One service we are considering is Simple K-12. The good thing about Simple K – 12 is that so many good resources are collected in one spot and I recognize many of the presenters from Twitter. It is a credible resource.
I think there is an argument for making services available that offer excellent customer service and good content in one easy to find location. Discovery Education is another important service. I went to their principals’ conference in Washington this summer (DENSI 2015) and it was excellent.
The problem with these services is that they can be expensive. We could easily spend our entire school budget on these two services.
Relying on ‘free resources’ is not the answer. We need access to resources that are credible and designed specifically for educators. We also can’t afford to waste teachers’ searching on their own for good services to use.
To be fair, everyone is busy and it takes time to find resources that are capable of offering excellent professional development and customer service. Once the resources are found, administrators need to be trained on them first before they are introduced to staff.
This means that there needs to be a plan that starts with the administrator and focuses on professional development first. Individual schools should not be left to fend for themselves when it comes to searching for the best resources.
We also need to find solutions that do not focus on training one or two staff members. To expect that training a few people with the hope that their experiences will translate to an entire staff are simply not realistic.
So, what is an administrator to do? To be honest, I am not sure. I think really good professional development is expensive and if we expect 1:1 initiatives to work we will have to make greater investments in excellent services.
As an illustration of what is possible, I have listed a few webinars I will take part in through Simple K-12 in the next few weeks. What is the solution for our school? I’m still working on that.
“Creative Ways to Fund the Cash-Strapped Classroom”.
“Extend Your Impact on Students and Parents Using Mobile Technologies”.
“Implementing an iPad Pilot”.
“How Going 1:1 Can Transform Your Learning Environment”.
“Top 10 Mistakes Schools Make When Going 1:1 and How to Avoid Them”.