Earlier this week was the Iowa Education Summit and while I was unable to attend physically, I was able to attend virtually. During the breakout sessions I was only able to follow the backchannel, #iaedsummit, and the topic of 1:1 computing came across. Being quite passionate about 1:1 computing, I felt I would jump in and I said something to the effect that not all implementations of 1:1 laptop initiatives have transformed education in those schools. A few tweets went back and forth where we discussed that the teachers and the schools are both on a continuum, which makes great sense. Thank you @mcleod for pointing that one out. Made it much easier to understand the process teachers and schools go through as they take up this feat. However, another tweet went across my radar confirming the presence of a continuum, but that 1:1 is the beginning point, not the ending point. At the time, I didn’t really think much of it. It seemed to make sense: to transform education, teachers need to have the tools ahead of time to make the necessary changes to their instruction. While I agree teachers need to have the tools to truly make a difference in how they teach, I’m not sure I feel 1:1 is the starting point. I think there is more to the story.
While I’ve never implemented 1:1 computing, I’ve followed others as they went through the process and I have some strong opinions about the topic. In my opinion, I’d think the starting point of transforming education through 1:1 would be to look at how the technology is going to change curriculum and instruction. I think to an extent this requires getting teachers their own laptop, but I also believe there is a large front loading component that might be overlooked: a critical look at curriculum and instruction. Since the true outcome of a 1:1 initiative is/should be to transform education, there has to be a critical look at how the teachers are currently teaching, not to mention what they are teaching, and what they want both to look like once the program is implemented. Beginning with the end in mind is crucial, because it helps us decide where to start. So yes, I agree that 1:1 is not the end, but I don’t think it’s the beginning either. It’s somewhere in between. It has to be, because if a district goes all in and implements 1:1 without looking at the curriculum and their instruction, then they’ve skipped a few steps and transformation isn’t really taking place. There has to be some kind of lead time to think about what’s going to change, in addition to the reflective time after implementation to see how things have change and to determine the path forward.