After my opening school keynote at the Mitchell School District, in South Dakota yesterday, I met for a couple of hours with the technical staff of the district and their integrationist (that’s a new one). First, I was extremely impressed with the tech staff. The main thing that impacted me was that they seemed to consider that they core of their job is to support the technology of a teaching and learning institution. I hear of too many tech people who focus exclusively on the technology, and not its context. Not the case here.
One thing that was unique about this team is that Mitchell is a K-14 district. The local technical college is part of the school district and its chief administrator is the school superintendent. I’ve never seen that before, and it opens up lots of possibilities in my mind.
The integrationist is new to the job and a former English teacher. She has certainly done her homework, and has a great deal of the vision-making underway, with the help of their superintendent, Joe Graves, the technology director, and her own experience as a practiced innovator.
I felt un-needed by this group, who had already engaged in more conversations about 1:1 than I have. But I did make a few suggestions within the conversation that I thought I’d jot down here.
- Look at the laptop program as a multidimensional conversation room. The tendency is to try to use ubiquitous computing to improve the delivery of instruction. I think that just as much (if not more) benefit can come from using it to generate conversation within the context of instruction. Go beyond communication between teacher and student, and engage students in learner to learner conversations. This could be as simple as blogs, or more sophisticated social networks such as eLGG.
- Do the same thing for teachers. Some teachers are going to take off with ubiquitous computing. You need their experiences to become a part of the school’s conversations. This could be a portal, blogs, in-school-mailgroups, etc.
- Look into staff development services such as Atomic Learning. There are others, but that’s the only one I can think of. Give teachers an opportunity to self-develop at their convenience, the technical side of technology.
- Get teachers accustomed to asking the students. “I want us to produce some video in our class this semester. I don’t know how. Do any of you have any experience with producing videos, and if so, would you be willing to prepare a presentation for the class and serve as our video consultant?”
- Set up a team of educators who meet regularly (at least every month — preferably every two-weeks) to discuss problems, successes, management tips, and other issues that arrise in the 1:1 implementation. Include tech-savvy teachers, less savvy teachers, administrators, tech staff, and at least two or three students. Take notes and publish them — or record the meetings and podcast them.
Just a few ideas…
Just 2Â¢ Worth!