Monday, February 2, 2015

How can One-to-One Chromebooks Transform a Classroom?

I've been lucky to have had contact with some great educational technology thinkers over the last 6 years or so.  One of the leaders I have heard speak many times, to rooms large and small, is Chris Lehmann.  Chris is the practical, down-to-Earth principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia as well as the founder of Educon.

For Christmas, my good pal Amanda Bullard got me a book titled "What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media", which was edited by Mr. Lehmann and Scott McLeod (another leader I've been honored to meet and talk with in the past).  The chapter in the book that spoke deeply to me was Chapter 7, entitled "One-to-One Computing", co-written by Chris Lehmann and Pamela Livingston.

It spoke deeply to me because it rings loudly with what we are working so hard to accomplish in Moore County Schools, where I work.  A great synopsis of what One-to-One computing in schools is all about is found on page 77 (emphasis mine):

"One way to think about the pedagogical change is that a 1:1 program should allow schools to make technology ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.  In a 1:1 environment, students have the technology with them at all times.  It does not require a special trip to a lab or signing out a cart.  This means that students can have constant access to the world around them.  Resources for creating, synthesizing, researching, writing, presenting, and publishing are solidly in the hands of the learner, not distributed by the teacher.  Teachers have to learn how to work this potential into their planning and classroom management.  Students have to learn how to manage the productivity potential of the device as well as the distractibility potential.  Used purposefully, 1:1 creates classrooms where teachers are facilitators and mentors, guiding students through learning and creation in powerful ways.  In this model, students can be empowered creators and synthesizers of learning artifacts...When all embrace their new roles, it stops being about the technology and becomes about the work.  When students and teachers stop talking about their laptops and instead use them in an authentic way toward common educational goals, a shared learning vision has been achieved."

This is the vision we have for our 1:1 Chromebook deployment and it has been from the very start.  We know the challenge is great and it feels great to be a part of a team that not only recognizes the challenges but works hard to overcome them for the benefit of students.

One-to-One Chromebooks can transform a classroom (and an entire district) by providing an equitable platform for ALL students to become expert collaborators, powerful creators, and empowered publishers.  Now that our students have Chromebooks at their fingertips both at school and at home, the world is open to them to chase down their passions and interests, grab them by the collar, and get to work fulfilling them.

The path to fulfilling our vision is long and filled with obstacles and challenges.  As a  member of an outstanding team, we can make this vision a reality together.  As a leader, the questions that drive me are:

  • What obstacles are in our way to fulfilling this vision for students?  What obstacles face our teachers?  Our students?  Our parents?  Our admin teams?  Our DIF team?  How can I purposefully identify and help eliminate them?  
  • In what ways can I continue to "say yes" when someone asks to try something new?  How can I focus on creating an environment where people are comfortable enough to share their innovative ideas?
  • How can we continue to make sure our efforts are focused squarely on student learning and opportunity?
  • In what ways can I continue to work directly with and gain valuable insight from students across grades K-12?  How can I help steer us toward an environment that truly values student choice and voice, instead of pay it lip service?
Together, with our heads and hearts in the right places, we can truly arrive at the transformative potential that One-to-One provides us.  Here's to the ongoing journey!