I spent Friday morning with a wonderful group of high school teachers at a neighboring district. Their district is going 1:1 next year, and, while they have access to Chromebook carts and have been using a lot of Google tools and other technology programs with their students already. However, there were a lot of good questions regarding how the learning landscape would change once students could take devices home with them and would be showing up every day in class with them. Since I was lucky enough to be a part of a pilot 1:1 program when I was teaching at my previous district, I got to share a lot of what I learned in my journey through 1:1. While you can access the Nearpod presentation used during the morning whole-group session at the bottom of this post, I have listed some of the major points I emphasized during that time below:
- In my first year, I only had two major accomplishments – getting students to use Google Docs and creating a really horrible website for students (that eventually got better). When you’re just starting out in 1:1, go easy on yourself – pick one or two things to focus on and develop.
- You’re going to feel a little bit (or maybe a lot) like a 1st year teacher again. By second semester of that year, I found that I was no longer just adding technology to my lessons and doing old school on new technology…I was redesigning my lessons to incorporate technology that matched the learning I was trying to do. That meant rethinking not only what I did with students, but why I was doing it.
- You have to start somewhere. So just get started. To me, this means that starting out by substituting electronic versions of what we used to do on paper is perfectly OK, as long as later on the shift is made towards augmenting, modifying, and redefining learning using technology. If I hadn’t started out with substitution, I don’t think I ever would have gotten started using the technology in the first place – and never would have been able to later harness the power of the technology sitting on my students’ desks to do problem-based learning or flip my classroom.
- Use technology to support the learning you want to do; don’t use technology for technology’s sake. Technology should only be used when it supports or enhances student learning. If it’s not useful for learning, then don’t use it! Every single time I used a technology tool with students just because the tool was cool, the lesson fell flat on its face.
- There is no “magic bullet” technology tool that will automagically get your students to learn at high levels. The teacher still has to carefully plan for the learning that will take place, choosing the technology that supports it. That may mean a mix of traditional and technology tools being used to get students to the level of thinking required. The teacher is still needed to set up the learning experiences so students can master the learning targets; no technology tool can do that work for us.
But we have to remember why we need to use technology with students in the first place: because they will graduate into a world where they will be expected to use it, and use it productively. Our job really isn’t to teach students a whole bunch of stuff they may or may not use again in life – it’s to equip them to master the technological lives they will lead.