This week’s Friday Links (links that have accumulated as draft posts that I never got back to) are going to cover two categories. The first is one-to-one (or 1:1) computing, which is increasingly becoming a reality for more students as more districts implement various pilot programs. For example, in the Palm Springs Unified School District, where I spent a great deal of time over the last four months, their plans for pilot one-to-one projects are accelerating well ahead of schedule for next year. Below are three relevant links, two of them from Wes Freyer and one from Raj Boora, that might help Palm Springs and other districts interested in 1:1 initiatives:
In the wake of the Stevenote, MacWorld continues, including the CUE organized k12 Symposium. Wes Freyer is there, and blogging the sessions he attends. Among them was this one that caught my attention…
Engaging Brains Through Games and Simulations by Bernie Dodge (Via Moving at the Speed of Creativity.) Bernie has been talking about (and teaching about) Games and Learning for some time, and it’s great to see him presenting the topic to mainstream (education) conference attendees. He discusses Brenda Laurel (who I’ve been reading a lot about lately in From Barbie to Mortal Kombat and Gender Inclusive Game Desing), complex games (a la Marc Prensky), the elements of a good game, Second Life, and more, including an interesting formula for learning: Power = Attention x Depth x Efficiency.
OLPC marches on (Via Moving at the Speed of Creativity.) Today, Wes also commented on recent and significant updates to the monumental open source project, One Laptop Per Child (also known as the $100 laptop project).
Check out the comment I got on my iPhone post yesterday. People are really putting thought into this (rather than letting their excitement run away with them as I did yesterday). Here are two other related and thoughtful posts.
In any case, I still want to get one myself in June. :)
MIT Media Lab co-founder steps down – Martin LaMonica, ZDnet (Via Blog Juice for Educational Technology.) At the OCDE we’ve been keeping a close eye on Negroponte’s $100 laptop initiative. This seems to be good news for that project. I have also long been interested in the work of the MIT Media Lab, and wonder what this new director means for their future.
Laptop computer technology is just like any other tool: it can be abused and used poorly or it can be leveraged powerfully to engage students. The major difference is the instructional philosophy with which the teacher approaches the educational enterprise. Why are we here in school? Do we just want students to fill out a virtual worksheet on the computer instead of a xeroxed worksheet with a pencil? Hopefully not. We need to use computer technologies in schools to help students cultivate REAL relationships with real people. We need to help students develop authentic literacy skills, not just good test-taking strategies valued only in the context of classrooms focused on high-stakes accountability.
Just yesterday I tried to make the same point to someone who emailed me about a 1:1 handheld implementation. I closed the email with “the most important factor in the success of a handheld implementation is your teachers.”
Professional development can (and in the case of the grant I managed, did) help. In retrospect, though, I would start out by targeting educational philosophy rather than technical skills. We were several months into the project when I realized what was wrong. We were helping teachers learn the Handheld Learning Environment, which is what I was asked about over email. The idea was that teachers could use this suite of interconnected open-ended applications for project-based learning with their students. During one training I was shocked to have a teacher say to me, “why do we need to go through all this? Isn’t it more efficient for me to write things on the board and for the students to copy them down?”
I remember thinking, “what planet is this person from?” But of course, we were just approaching the whole idea of educating middle school students from entirely different educational philosophies.
Goodbye Palm OS, Hello Linux (Via Wired News.) As someone who has spent a lot of time with both handhelds and Linux, this is exciting. It also bodes well for low cost handhelds in school (which is a great way to take a 1:1 initiative to scale without breaking the bank, as Steve Glyer used to say). These handhelds could even be custom programmed, potentially even by students.
1:1? (Via 2 Cents Worth.) David Warlick: “it won’t work in a 20th century classroom.” This is not to say it won’t work. Warlick suggests that issues of tech support and professional development need to be addressed… but, surprisingly, given the quote above, he doesn’t really get into how the classroom would have to change to be a “21st century classroom”, though he certainly does elsewhere in 2 Cents Worth. I appreciated the optimistic (and pragmatic) final question: “What stories do you go out and tell your community to convince them that being ready for their future requires that children have convenient access to networked digital information?”
Perhaps I need a 1:1 category for these referrals? I suppose this topic will only get more important.
States lining up for laptop projects (Via Moving at the Speed of Creativity.) “laptop computer hardware offers no panacea for educational challenges. In fact, laptops in the hands of students can serve as a negatively disruptive influence in the learning environment and further complicate an already demanding and complex classroom landscape for teachers as well as administrators.”
The 1:1 initiatives in Orange County are, as you might expect, also facing hurdles… and some of them outside of the classroom, not unlike what we saw earlier in Georgia.
That being said, it’s exciting to see that so many states are considering taking a risk on 1:1 initiatives.
Also as a relatively new subscriber to Moving at the Speed of Creativity, it was good to learn the topic of Wesley Fryer’s dissertation (I could’ve learned this from his bio page)… and that he’s almost done!