March 30, 2007

Just do it

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:05 am

I spent the afternoon with three teachers all involved in one to one computing classrooms; the two teachers from the Palm handheld project and a veteran teacher in a tablet PC classroom.

We spent part of the afternoon in the tablet classroom observing the setup and watching the students work. This isn’t about student excitement over a new tool. It’s gone way beyond that. Technology in these classrooms is virtually seamless. Yet motivation and engagement still exists. The classroom is not quiet as students talk about their work, help each other and share their learning in large groups. (This classroom has a wireless projector which allows any student to project their screen to the projector)
We talked about pedagogy, engagement, the importance of essential questions and lamented on how students leaving these classrooms will feel when they no longer have access all day long. All three agree, kids need this. How will they go back? What if you were told that next year, you’ll only have access to a computer twice a week for 45 minutes?

Tom Hoffman writes about the possibility of a low-cost laptop on the horizon. The Palms have provided a low-cost option as well. My concerns about lack of internet access still exists but they have begun to provide a learning environment that embraces much of what is right about digital learning. The point is we have to continue to find ways to get this in students hands. I’m reminded of the presentation from the K-12 Online Conference dealing with a 2-1 environment. I think of Pam Shoemaker’s involvement with having parents purchase the laptops. In any case, we have teachers and administrators commitmed to the idea of getting computers in students’ hands. With teachers this passionate about students and access, it’s not likely these types of efforts would fail. The failings of other initiatives come from mass roll outs when many teachers aren’t ready or able to make the adjustments in pedagogy. But when teachers are ready and want their students to have access, I say to administrators and central office decision makers, “just do it“. Find a way to get it done.

It’s noteworthy that Ev, who is a teacher of 30 years is, retiring this year. She is doing so somewhat reluctantly because she is feeling like she is just on the verge of exploring a new way of teaching and learning for her students. She is a true learner.