I was thinking about this Monday night during a meeting for my district's one-to-one computing initiative. Providing a safe and effective environment for more than 3,000 students is certainly an incredible undertaking, so understandably much of our discussion has been on the physical components. What netbook to choose? How will machines be rolled out? What will be protocol for damaged equipment?
The committee is well-managed and is on its way to ironing out the wrinkles in the what end of things. Now for the how.
Training on the actual machines and training on how to incorporate into daily lessons needs to be synchronous. If teachers don't know the capabilities of the hardware then the whole initiative fails. If teachers don't know how to effectively exploit those capabilities then the whole initiative fails. But how do you show one teacher how to foster collaborative work environments, for example, while simultaneously teaching another how to plug in and recharge a laptop battery?
Maybe the question can be summed up as "What should come first - the hardware training or the pedagogy for technology integration?" The answer is yes.
Our building technology integrator made an interesting observation about my habits with technology. He told me that I tend to find something and jump in head first. Completely true. Luckily though, my ratio of perfect swan dives to terrible head injuries is in my favor. And when I do jump in head first only to find the water too shallow, what's the worst that can happen? I pick up the pieces of a shattered lesson, and learn from my mistakes.
On the small scale of my daily lessons this is a risk worth taking, but on the grand scale of a district looking to implement one-to-one computing, we need to be more assertive in addressing the needs of the teachers. Teach the teachers, and one-to-one has the opportunity to become a revolution.
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