Leslie Wilson co-chairs the National Steering Committee of One-to-One Directors and facilitates networking and collaboration among one-to-one visionaries. As a founding member and CEO of the One-To-One Institute based in Lansing, Mich., she created and implemented model programs and services based on Michigan’s Freedom to Learn Program.
While leading Michigan’s one-to-one teaching and learning initiative, Leslie recruited McREL to facilitate technology training for the state and Leading for Technology staff. We are reposting her blog as a resource for schools, districts, and states that are implementing or considering one-to-one initiatives.
You’ve Got ‘Tablets’ and Now You’re 1:1? Really?
By Leslie Wilson
More and more districts are acquiring ‘tablets and saying ‘we are now 1:1’. I always ask what that means. What is 1:1? The definitions are many as districts glom on to sexy, inexpensive, long-life battery, lightweight devices instead of foundational, robust, multi-tasking, creativity devices (which also by the way, are lightweight, have long-life batteries, etc., etc.). One-to-One Institute’s work amplifies the message that a quality, student-centered 1:1 employment is complex, transformative work. The focus points are teaching and learning and not hardware, software, and apps. A shared vision, strategic project plan and leader must accompany the program from its embryonic inception. What are the goals? How will they affect the current culture and expectations? What kind of messaging, practices and policies need to accompany this effort?
To transform teaching and learning to a student centered, personalized instructional setting, there are key components—project plan elements—that have to be addressed to be successful. Leaders need to know, understand and guide the ‘change’ process. A 360 degree professional learning program must be embedded for all stakeholders. Teachers who will need to change their practices from adult-centered, static systems to student driven, experiential operations require time, guidance and learning communities to ensure the shift of practice. And overarching policies must direct the practices.
Human and funding capacities are also of primary importance. How will we acquire and deploy devices? Maintain/repair them? Refresh them? Scale out our program? What about battery replacement? Yes, even the ‘tablets’ have batteries that die. Do we buy a new one for $100 (1/3 or ¼ cost of a new tablet) or do we have a plan for replacing all of them in 18-24 months? Do we lease or purchase? What in-house funds can we reallocate to this program (if it is a priority)? What do administrators, teachers, parents/guardians, etc., need to know and do differently in this changed state?
At a time when school funding is in crisis, stakeholders need to understand ‘why’ their schools are investing in technologies when staff is being laid off and programs being set aside. Calling on and sharing research and best practices will be crucial to district’s messaging. If tablets are the chosen devices, a district must be prepared to provide technologies for students to create, multi-task, store and produce robust results/activities in addition to what they will do on the limited functionality tablets…and they need to honestly share this need and solutions to provide additional device support.
There is a much bigger picture and quality impact on education with authentic one-to-one implementations. It has to be about core vision, beliefs and strategies that complement what’s needed for learning and producing in the 21st century. It is not as simple as buying a cool tool. We can all have cool tools and have the same old, same old education system resulting in the same old, same old results.
Leslie Wilson, CEO One-to-One Institute Read more of her blog.