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Retrieved from ISED-L list-serv 10/09, CC3.0 a, s-a, nc license

Christina D. says:

We are in the process of developing a plan for 1:1 implementation in our Middle and High Schools over the next two years. One of the biggest questions we are grappling with right now is whether to go with an approach where all students buy the same machine (or perhaps at most 2 different kinds, one being Mac and one Windows to defuse platform wars) in order to provide some consistency and equity in the classroom, or whether to allow “open-choice with minimal software expectations,” meaning students can bring pretty much whatever they want as long as it can perform certain functions we define. The latter approach is definitely more appealing to folks with strong platform/brand/model preferences and to those who have already purchased mobile computing devices. The move of more and more applications to the cloud gives further weight to the “open choice” approach, but unfortunately, our access to the cloud is much more limited than in developed countries.


Here are some things I would consider:

1. Will these be school or family owned? If family owned, you cannot legally install software purchased for the school (e.g. site licenses, lab packs, etc.). This means you either need to do everything in the cloud and/or use Open Source, or deal with having families buy and install software If school owned, do you want to deal with taking "orders" for a dozen or more different models / brands?

2. Imaging - Will the school be doing any imaging of laptops? If so, you will have to create an image for each brand with a given configuration. Do you have the time and tech support for this?

3. Do you have the tech support (time and expertise) to support multiple models, platforms, brands? Even if they are family owned, and you are asking families to do the majority of the support, you still have the day to day issues you have to deal with.

4. Teacher training / support - Teachers need to feel comfortable enough to truly integrate the use of laptops into their classroom. This requires ongoing training as well as daily support. If you have students in the classroom with computers that are all different, this might slow down this integration process.

Almost every school I talked to or worked at has a single platform and single brand. Some exceptions are the Harker School and Oregon Episcopal School.


Brian L. says:

It's not about how useful the accumulation of knowledge is being used with a laptop, but it is supporting them outside the education level. Technology equipment can be abused and mishandled, and we need to be prepared to support them. I don't think it is a myth, but a risk that needs to be covered when implementing a 1:1 program.

It was a view from one person who experience from repairing many laptops that has been dropped, mishandled, and reimaged many times in a given week because of viruses while acquiring pirated movies and music. The discussion was not about how technology was effectively used in education, but the backend support of making sure technology works for the students. The school had their techs become certified so their total coverage warranty would cover physical damage.

This is the other part of supporting technology we have to consider. Who would fix the stuff when it breaks? Do you have the manpower to hire people to fix it? Do students feel they have ownership of the laptop? Is there internal politics behind the 1:1 that could hinder the inclusion of training (time, money, resources, etc)?

Another thing to consider is the regular training for faculty to integrate technology into their curriculum. Are faculty going to implement laptops into their curriculum because otherwise students would use it for taking notes.

We don't have a 1:1 program here, but we have a laptop cart for each dept. We simply don't have the manpower and money to support every student here with laptop problems.


Alex I. says:

Device: Laptop vs. Tablet vs. Netbook vs. Any Device Hardware: Single hardware platform vs. Varied hardware platforms OS: Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux vs. OS Agnostic Acquisition: School owned vs Family/Student owned Finance: Lease vs. Purchase Software: What blend of local versus web based would be used Storage: How much, where is it stored and how it is synchronized and backed-up Policies: How do they relate to other policies relative to character development PD: expectation of whole school culture versus classroom Environment: client device vs. terminal server vs virtual desktop

It isn't just an increase in computers that leads to increased logistical issues. It is an opportunity to vastly empower students by shifting the locus of control from the teacher to an individual student. This can have a tremendous impact on school culture, positive or negative. Schools that deal with the hardware and software and leave the rest to chance often suffer negative and expensive consequences.

Earlier comments about not getting bogged down in the logistics is a wise one but it is because that school has people focused on outcomes, rather than inputs. Beaver Country Day is known for having great clarity and focus in its purpose as well. This should NOT be understated.

Your approach should begin with purpose and goals. Know your desired outcomes and then plan backwards. Focusing on purpose, rather than logistics, can make many of the controversies of those very necessary logistics conversations go away.


Pam L says:

I wanted to add a couple of things to this conversation. When interviewing teachers around the U.S. and overseas the overwhelming response has been "we would not want to go back to not using laptops." And when I surveyed students around the U.S. and 5 countries, over 700 responses so far, the overwhelming response has been "we want to learn with laptops." Also, back in May 2007 the New York Times reported on 5 laptop programs that were discontinued. Several colleagues and I independently looked into the schools mentioned and the commonality was 1. leadership was not behind the program 2. very little continual professional development of teachers ensued 3. tech support was cut back and nearly non-existent 4. little happened in the classroom other than note-taking (see 1,2,3) and 5. student expectations were not clear. What school-wide innovation or improvement initiative would survive 1,2,3,4 and 5?

As to the platform/hardware issues, when I interviewed teachers/tech directors back in 2005/06 the word was "same platform/same model" and the reason was complexity of support. Now it might be different and the reason is "the cloud" plus any hardware manufacturer selling to schools absolutely should have an extended warranty - and ought to in some way give advice on damage or loss of equipment. I know before Jim Hendrixx went to the American School in London, he had multi-platform going quite successfully at the Oregon Episcopal.

The Urban School/Howard Levin had a really interesting take on getting laptops. They polled their parents and asked who either devoted a computer to their child or was planning to do so. A really high percentage said yes they would. Urban School said let us buy the computers, let us load them with the applications, let us use them in the classroom, and one device will go from home to school. Howard gives some really cool presentations which include sample screenshots of how students customize their laptops with folders, colors, etc. because - they own the learning, the tool for learning, the structure, the access, the retrieval, the whole thing. It's not distributed and taken away for 40-60 minutes, it's theirs all the time.

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