“The current state of education is preparing our student’s for yesterday’s world—not tomorrow’s. Schools must do more to keep pace with rapid technology, research, and societal changes.”
-From the article Social networking in the classroom
I feel that this quote is one of the main issues that we have discussed many times during this class. When I read this over and over to myself I really started to wonder what types of things can schools and educators do to prepare our students for a future we do not know anything about. I feel that 1-to-1 learning would be a great program for students to help close the digital divide and at least prepare them for a digital future.
According to the Apple website, “A 1 to 1 learning program is defined as an environment where students and teachers have 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week access to a notebook computer as well as digital content, educational software, and digital authoring tools.” Apple feels that students learn better when they are engaged, and according to research technology is the number one tool for engaging today’s students. The top reasons that schools believe in the one-to-one program are for:
o Improving student academic achievement through the use of technology
o Assuring equity in access to digital resources
o Promoting economic development by preparing students for today’s workplace
o Enhancing teaching to transform the quality of instruction
I feel that the 1 to 1 learning is one of our biggest chances to help close the digital divide between students in the same classroom. Everyone will be taught how to use the same programs and also will be on the same pace. Even though we still are unsure of what tomorrow’s workplace, at least 1 to 1 is helping us prepare our students for today’s.
After my background research of what 1 to 1 learning really consisted of, including both the pros and cons, I wanted to see what some of the professionals in the field of education, such as Will Richardson, had to say about it. In One Laptop Per Child Begins…$14 Billion on Easter he says that 1 to 1 learning is, “Very cool to see, and it starts my brain to racing with the possibilities. Let’s hope the pedagogies that these kids are taught help them take full advantage of the awesome connection that they now have.” Once the students are given these computers it is up to the teacher’s pedagogies to give the students the best educational experience that they can. He talks about a school that he went to for a workshop where more than half of the students in the district live on welfare or some sort of assistance, so therefore have hardly any contact with computers outside of school. Unfortunately these students are falling further and further behind. It is amazing to see these students each working on their own computers, however Richardson brings up a very interesting point of view in regards to the funding of these programs. He says, “In a society that is more concerned with the father of Anna Nicole’s baby, one that spent almost $14 billion on Easter stuff, (the equivalent of 140 million laptops, btw) what’s it going to take before we understand what No Child Left Behind really means?” Our society’s top priority is definitely not education. What can we do to make everyone realize that just by re-prioritizing how we spend our money that it would actually be easier than once thought to provide students with their own computers? I think that if everyone just took a step back and see what they are spending their money on and why, that everyone might see what they could personally do to really make sure that, “no child is left behind.”
One of the most inspiring comments on his blog that I found was by Carolyn Foote. She says, “Will they be sufficient for these children their entire academic career? Maybe not, but will they learn to create content, tell their stories, and share with the world? Yes, they will. Will that translate into other tools? I believe it will. Will there be mistakes or choices made along the way-probably. But someone took a vision, ran with it, asked the web community for help and now it is a reality. That is more than has ever been done before.” This is the type of positive attitude that we need more in our school systems today. This program can do wonders for our students, they can share their stories and even learn to make their own content. So what if there are a few mistakes made along the way, whenever a new teaching style is tried there is always the chance of something not working out according to plan. We need teachers who are not afraid of a challenge and to really use this program to its fullest advantage to give our students a unique, engaging educational experience. Another comment that I really agreed with was from Chris Flynn who had an idea about the financial issue of the 1 to 1 program. He says that, “we could cut into a textbook budget for a year, learn to use free internet sources that are certainly more up-to-date than the textbooks we cut out for a year, and spend that money on 21st century tools.” With all of the technology that is being created, there is less attention being paid to textbooks, heck, many teachers do not even use the textbooks that they are given now. Information in textbooks are only good for a couple years now, if that, the information found on the internet is constantly being changed and updated. The choice seems to be pretty clear for educators.
In the article, Maybe My Class Is Doing The $100 Laptop Pilot For The US, there is a teacher who is doing is own 1 to 1 pilot program in his classroom with iBook computers that are seven years old. He says that they are not the fastest, the screens are kind of small, and at times the CD player covers may fall off, but the students are still using wikis, Skype, Flickr, blogs and many more internet and computer tools. He explains, “90% of my students receive free and reduced price lunch, few have access to technology at home, and the laptops we are using probably aren’t worth much more than $100.” If it can be made this easy and students are gaining great learning experiences, why aren’t more schools taking advantage of this? So what if the computers are not brand new, if the technology works and is beneficial to the students, then I say go for it. Just think of the things that you would be able to do with your students if every single one had access to their own laptop 24/7. The possibilities are exciting and endless. Hopefully in the years to come, we will be able to see an increase of 1 to 1 learning programs in schools and even more success stories that go along with them.