Just Some Reflections

I’m sitting in the Holiday Inn in Sioux Falls, waiting for a shuttle ride to the airport, where I’ll turn around and hop into a rental car and drive to Emporia, Kansas, for their Summer Institute for School Librarians.  It’s a 7-hour drive but I have all day and a very good book to listen too, Up Country, by Nelsen Demille.  It’s actually an excellent book which I read a few years ago — about a Vietnam Vet who goes back to that rapidly developing nation to solve a murder mystery, but to also come to terms with issues from his two tours, 1968 and 1972.  It is extremely interesting to me, because although I did not visit that country (my lottery number was 360 and they weren’t taking people who were almost deaf), that war played a formative roll in the lives of many of us, if not most of us, who were young and daring during that tumultuous time.  The book is full of many new and intriguing insights about that experience from a perspective that is entirely different from mine.

Back to now and South Dakota.  I had a wonderful ride back from Mitchell last night with Shawn Massey and Scott Wooster, from Michigan, and Pamela Livingston, from New Jersey.  Pamela had just delivered a 7:00 PM keynote and did a wonderful job of describing some of the 1:1 initiatives across the U.S. which she includes in her book, 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs That Work.  Ms. Livingston will start a new career in July as a full-time consultant and will be a wonderful resource for schools and districts (and states) who are considering transforming their classrooms by empowering their teachers and students with access to information — laptops on their desks.

Finally, I want to offer just a very brief reflection on the Laptop Institute in South Dakota.  Energy was everywhere, in the presenters, the planners, and the participants.  You naturally assume a level of hospitality in the mid-west, but they outdid all expectations.  There was a major focus on transforming education with laptops, not just using laptop computers as a teaching machine.  At the same time, I witnessed several occasions where session leaders worked to rein folks in from going to far out there — on one occasion having to pull me just a bit closer to the box.

Two major themes seemed to emerge in general conversations, that of support and professional development.  Most of the support issues, frankly, went over my head.  I can’t even visualize what it might mean to re-image your computer from an alternative partition.  But I may have some comments in a future post about professional development in 1:1 learning environments.

For now, it’s time to go hop on the shuttle, hop into that rental car (please let it not be an SUV), and then skip on down to Kansas.

One thought on “Just Some Reflections”

  1. Thanks for the nice things you said about SouthDakota. I very much enjoyed your sessions at the Laptop Institute in Mitchell. Over the last few years I have listened to a number of presentations at various tech conferences on this same topic, the changing face of education. To be frank, I was often left with a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is difficult to hear that the profession you trained for & work at, to the best of your ability, is becoming a relic. The methods you were taught to use are now obsolete & ineffective. I feel a little like a steel worker – on my way out. I teach art & computers so sometimes I feel like I’m counting down my days until I’ll have to find a new profession – not easy in a small town. Art is always in danger of budget cuts & now it looks like the concensus is computer teachers should not be needed with the digital natives. Your presentations brought it home in a way others did not. It gave me a much greater understanding about just how much kids have changed & how we truly do owe it to them to make their education experiences the best they can be. I left feeling excitement rather than dread, which is a much better feeling. Thanks again

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