Is the iPad the Correct Tool to Aid Learning in Education?

Many educators have asked me – “Is the iPad the correct tool to aid learning in education?” Having read several articles as well as witnessing first hand the implementation of iPad programs in several K12 educational establishments. I still don’t have a definitive answer, but I suppose it depends on the goals of your educational establishment and the age group of learners and what they need to achieve by using the iPad.

Therefore my own personal answers are Yes and No……..

No

If you are going to implement an iPad program then the pedagogical style of education in the classroom must change. There is no point in simply giving out iPads to every student and expecting everyone to use it as a tool for learning. I have seen this in action, where a private school gives each child an iPad as part of its admissions; the cost is included in the school fees. “What great marketing”, but no help with the actual learning of the child. The teachers had not been trained to use the iPad; the school infrastructure had not been designed to cope with 200 students using the iPad all at the same time. Parents were asked to purchase and download the apps at home, so loss of control from the school’s point of view, with parents who were not really trained correctly with technology use at home. No thought about the older students who need to type 5000 word projects on an iPad keyboard. No training given to teachers or students about Internet safety, correct usage in the classroom and digital citizenship.  No thought about storage of personal data or even transfer of data, no thought over the applications available on the iPad and whether they are suitable in the classroom.

Yes

If you have planned your implementation correctly, considered all the points mentioned above, then your iPad program is likely to be much more successful:

  • Supportive, designed, and managed wireless infrastructure
  • Teacher continuous training and support
  • Introduction of classroom IT Integrators/Innovators
  • Parental workshops to support home use of technology and understanding the use of technology in the classroom
  • Control, centralized and managed downloading of Apps by the school
  • IT pedagogy, how to use iPads to aid learning in the classroom (and at home)
  • A supportive and fully trained IT technical team
  • Data storage and data transfer
  • The correct Apps which will aid learning
  • The use of a LMS or VLE
  • The health and safety issues (how to look after and care for your iPad)

This list is not exhaustive and I am sure we can add several more important points to this list……..

Is the iPad suited for all ages?

This depends on what the iPad is going to be used for in education? I still believe at the moment it is more valuable as a learning tool for use in the Elementary/Primary school sector and that a laptop (MacBook or Notebook) would be more suitable to Middle/High school/ Secondary school, possibly if the budget allowed, an iPad would be useful as a supplementary learning tool. (I can see the benefits, the ease of carrying an iPad or any mobile device, the ease to make quick notes in a lecture theatre or classroom, the use of Science based Apps in 3D etc., the long battery life and the long list of other benefits mentioned in previous blog entries here). The processing power, storage capabilities, number of applications, software and of course a keyboard, simply make laptops currently a far more effective learning tool than the iPad. I have seen the separate keyboard that can be used with iPads as well as the overlay for the keyboard, this maybe a way forward for the future.

Don’t get me wrong; I feel the iPad is a fantastic educational tool, when used in a school environment that has been planned and where everyone fully supports the program. But if a school just gives an iPad to everyone and thinks the magic of learning will automatically take place, I feel that they may be proved sadly wrong.

Please comment and let me know your ideas and thoughts. Things that you have witnessed working well with 1:1 iPad implementation.

I have found this article by Mitchell A. Salerno, Michael Vonhof insightful for US state based implementation of the iPad in K12 education.

Written by Steven David Pearce 20/12/2011 and update 12/10/2014

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Implementing a 1:1 iPad Scheme

Planning is always the key to implementing any new mobile device scheme into an educational establishment. Many questions need to be asked and solved in order for the scheme to be successful. Having already implemented a very successful 1:1 Macbook Pro laptop scheme, the ease of implementing a 1:1 iPad scheme is somewhat easier. Like most developments in education it is very important to have your staff (the teachers) on board and willing to adjust their pedagogy style to adapt to new uses of technology and learning in the classroom.

I have tried to include relevant areas to consider when implementing a 1:1 iPad scheme, however this list may change depending your school, the type of establishment and other educational considerations – (especially budgetary).

Areas to consider:

1. Wireless Network – ensure the relevant areas of the school have the correct wireless coverage and that iPads can easily connect to the internet. Ensure you can manage bandwidth by using a management based system (like Aurba), consider the policy management – does it need to be different to other mobile devices that connect to your network? Check that a large number of iPads can connect successfully at the same time to the network, if you already have a 1:1 laptop scheme this will probably cause no concern. Always have a trial time with a specific Year Group to test the system as well as allowing teachers to become accustomed to using the new technology.

2. iPad Device Management – consider how you will securely store and charge the iPads. My suggestion is to use something similar to the Bretford mobility cart as illustrated with the picture below. These carts are strong and well designed and can be easily moved from classroom to classroom if required. (Another good company for storing iPads is Datamation Systems Inc, their storage devices also provide syncing capabilities too). Ensure that some procedures and guidelines are put in place for taking and returning the iPads to the cart and that all teachers are aware and adhere to them. Also host a short training session for teachers on how to use the carts, what to do if an iPad is damaged, how to report the damage or problem, then create a small typed notice which can be put on the inside of the cart door, as a reminder.

3. The iPad – consider how you will protect the iPad, try to find a cover that can stay on all the time, but allows for charging and storage in the mobility cart. The cover needs to be strong enough to protect the iPad from the occasional small fall and all the knocks and bumps from continuous use in the classroom. Install Orbicule Undercover software, in case of loss or theft. (Recently my school managed to retrieve one of our learners 1:1 Macbook Pro’s that was stolen/lost at Heathrow Airport in the UK, within a week , the people who had stolen the laptop were arrested and the Macbook Pro was returned to the learner!). Consider how to identify each iPad, how will you number them? My suggestion is to engrave a unique number (think of a numbering scheme that fits with your establishment) on the back of the iPad, as stickers are easily removed, however, be aware that if you are using an iPad case that covers the engraving it may be difficult to see the number. Also, consider how your learners will use the iPad, will they use the same iPad all the time ( a 1:1 iPad scheme makes this easy) however, many schools will share the iPads amongst a few classes. How will you deal with settings on the iPad such as arrangement of apps, wallpaper images, etc, do you give admin rights to the teachers, learners or the technical department? Do you need to buy a set of Ear-buds? – my suggestion is that the learners buy their own ear-buds and keep them in school, possibly better for health reasons. Although it’s always good for a school to have a few spare pairs, or invest in some larger headphones.

4. Application Management – consider how you will purchase and distribute the apps, will you have one account or multiple accounts? My suggestion (for a school) is that you have one account for each of the age groups, for example in the British Educational system there would be one account for KS1, KS2, Ks3, Ks4 and KS5, this would enable the same apps to be used by the similar groups. As stated in point 3 above, do you allow teachers to install apps on the iPads and therefore block learners from installing apps? (this could be achieved through parental controls and or admin rights). In the USA, remember it is possible to use Apples volume purchasing plan, this gives a 50% discount to bulk purchases of apps. However, as yet the VPP is not available in Asia, although we are currently in discussions with Apple to introduce something similar for education. This is an informative article about syncing by parat solutions.

5. Content Management – consider how will learners/users login to and store their work on an iPad? Will they be able to email their work to another device, computer, laptop. Will they save their work in a cloud based application or both? If learners are given unique school email addresses, then these can be used by the students to move data. However, this is not always particularly practical when we are looking at learners aged 3 or 4 who may need an easier way to save/share their work. I like to use Dropbox for iPad, which allows students to share their content across multiple platforms. Consider also, how often to clear the contents of the iPads, possibly on a yearly basis, iPad storage memories can fill up pretty fast with media based content.

6. Pedagogy, Teaching Styles and Professional Development – introducing any mobile technology device into the classroom, will also require a change or shift in pedagogy. If you already have a 1:1 laptop scheme running in your school you will appreciate how much this changes the style of classroom teaching. Teaching needs to become much more student centered, inquiry based, project based and investigative. The use of ELP (Extended Learning Projects) or CBL (Challenge Based Learning) are great ways to allow students to use mobile devices for inquiry and investigative research as well as creativity using a variety of media for presentations and multimedia. Consider also how much professional development do you provide your teachers, is it internal PD or provided by an external company. I have always found internal professional development more valuable, where the trainer already has an understanding of the learning style and needs of the school. External training or bringing a trainer to the school also has some benefits by giving or providing training from a different view point. I am also keen to link classroom IT usage and pedagogy to teacher appraisal, at the end of the day there is no point employing (or continuing to employ) a teacher who is unwilling to adapt or develop their teaching style in an IT rich environment. The use of Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s) can be a very valuable aid in assisting educators with ideas of using IT (iPads) in the classroom, I would recommend Twitter for this.

7. The Possible Downsides – consider your classroom environment, is it conducive to learning and the use of iPads? Is there somewhere to store the mobile cart or a place where this can be accessible, for example some schools have the same Year Group classrooms on different floors, without an elevator how will you distribute your iPads? Do you have the correct lighting in the classroom, do you have blinds to adjust the light? Sometimes the glare on the iPad screen can make reading difficult. Invest in non-glare screen protectors to avoid this issue. Remember that Flash based applications cannot work on the iPad, there are still many learning games and other web based applications that require Flash, these will not run on the iPad. Just because you have an application on your laptop or desktop computer, doesn’t mean that it will also be available for the iPad, research and test applications well before using them with a class.

8. Costs and the Community – consider the costs of implementing the scheme, will the school purchase the iPads or lease the iPads. Will the learners take the iPads home or leave them at school. Should parents pay for the cost of the iPads, do they need credit facilities or assisting with the purchase. Should you include the cost of Apple care warranty? Does the 1:1 iPad scheme change with different age groups, for example – the younger year groups keep their iPads at school and this is funded by the school (through school fees) and the older year groups purchase outright their iPads and then take them home. Is there any benefit to learners of having both a 1:1 laptop scheme and a 1:1 iPad scheme? (probably not?), although this maybe dependent on age – for example, as learners get older they may need to use a laptop for specific applications. Always inform the community first of your plans, involve everyone in your planning stages, parents, teachers and the board of governors or local authorities.

There are a lot of other areas to consider that I have not mentioned here. This is partly because I have already covered them in my previous article about implementing a 1:1 laptop scheme (please read this to get some additional ideas). Also there is a lot of difference between schools which are government funded and how to plan for an iPad 1:1 scheme, especially when compared to private/independent/international schools.

Please comment with possible areas that I have forgotten or areas that you have found work well in your school or educational establishments.

Check out this document regarding 21 steps for successful 1:1 implementation – an excellent document!

Written by Steven David Pearce 24/03/2011 updated 10/10/2013

Why use iPads in Education?

To be successful when using technology in education, it is important to focus on engagement, creativity, inquiry-based learning and differentiated instruction rather than on the technological tools used to amplify the learning which takes place in the classroom. I believe that iPads and other digital learning devices are a critical part of the learning process. The point of using an iPad in the classroom shouldn’t be simply to use the digital device, but to provide a tool to aid learning, as this will empower learners to engage in the transformation of learning experiences, which would not be possible without iPad technology. I believe that as educators we need to teach our children to be creative problem solvers; we want them to be leaders who can analyze a variety of sources for bias while synthesizing information to create a thorough understanding of a problem so that they can engage in dialogues to affect solutions. To do this we need to educate them and provide them with the right technology to achieve these outcomes. This is why I believe that the iPad, in addition to other mobile devices and  Apple learning platforms, is the right tool.

7 Key Reasons for using the iPad in Education:

Learning Styles:

The iPad is a streamlined, visually attractive tablet that is used primarily as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, and web content.  The auditory, kinesthetic and visual aspects of the tablet appeal to a variety of different learners and learning styles. The iPad enables personalized learning by giving learners the responsibility and ownership to choose how they learn, when they learn and where they learn; as well as developing their organizational skills.

Creativity:

The vast number of Apps allows all types of learners from different age groups to be creative by expanding the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom, from interactive lessons to study aids to productivity tools. The use of iMovie and GarageBand provide opportunities for all learners to show their creative nature and skills.

Technical:

The iPad requires minimal maintenance (as with most Apple products) and installation of software as well as booting up much more quickly than other mobile devices. Because of its solid-state hard drive, there is minimal time wasting in connecting to the network and logging in. The iPad has its own operating system and software, which is optimized to ensure ease of use and fast access to its software and Apps.

Accessibility:

Learners have accessibility to the world 24/7 (subject to internet access). Students don’t need to carry a huge number of textbooks, dictionaries, thesauruses, atlases etc. The iPad has accessibility built in, it comes with a screen reader, support for playback of closed-captioned content and a universal zoom feature which provides magnification of the entire screen of any application. It also supports a wireless Braille display and international Braille tables.

Battery Life:

The battery life is relatively long, on average I would say at least 7 hours.  The iPad 2 can stay charged for the entire school day, although learners need to take responsibility for charging the device

Any Age and Anyone:

The iPad can be used by anyone, at any age from pre-school through to adult life. I have found it especially useful for learners who have learning difficulties.  The ipad is easy to use and can improve the progress of learning for everyone, regardless of ability, and this makes it a powerful tool.

Motivation: 

I have read many discussions about the Hawthorne Effect with the iPad and being a new technological tool for learning in the classroom, this maybe true. However, anyone who has been in a class of K12 learners who are all using an iPad will see that the response from the learners is one of engagement, wonderment, learning and of progress. It is fair to say this may be short lived, though I believe it will be long lasting and of course Apple will bring out another adapted tablet or a new product in a year or two which again revolutionizes mobile technology as a tool to aid learning in the classroom and beyond.

There are many other factors to consider, which are not mentioned here – the one of cost and budgetary requirements comes to mind. Also, as previously stated, the adoption of technology will only be successful if the associated pedagogy relates to the correct use of mobile devices in the classroom and associated learning philosophy. As my school is a 1:1 Apple school, it makes sense for us to continue to adopt Apple technology. I am sure there are other android-based tablets that will also aid learning in education but as yet I have not seen any evidence.

By Steven David Pearce 26th May 2011

Discovery, Problem and Challenged Based Learning

It is my belief that educators must now consider how learning has changed  (if they haven’t done so already) and how they can adapt their pedagogies to facilitate the learning of our current and future student population.In the light of advances and changes in technology we need to consider how we can capture the minds of our youth and continue to inspire them to learn and develop as independent learners.

Our learners have now become producers and publishers and have moved on from the consumers of pure content. They have access to the Internet, which offers a variety of worldwide media. They have the ability to create inspiring content by using digital technologies and simple software applications that they can now publish to an eager and awaiting world-wide crowd.

Using Apple’s (ACOT2) Report as reference, I have looked at a variety of different learning methodologies that encapsulate 21st Century Learning, (Discovery based learning, Problem based learning and Challenged based learning) these methodologies link together to form a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning for today’s classroom and learning environments.

(ACOT2Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow – Today –  is a collaborative project to help high schools get closer to creating the kind of learning environment this generation of students needs, wants, and expects so they will stay in school.”

This report identifies 6 Key principles that assist in developing the learning environment for learners of today and the future, these principles are illustrated in the diagram below:

6 Principles for Learning in 21st Century Schools 

There are 3 key learning methodologies that I believe enhance and aid 21st Century classrooms and learning; they include all the 6 principles as shown above. These are briefly outlined here:

Learning Methodologies:

  1. Discovery based learning:  is an inquiry-based, constructivist learning theory that takes place in problem solving situations where the learner draws on his or her own past experience and existing knowledge to discover facts and relationships and new truths to be learned. Learners interact with the world by exploring and manipulating objects, wrestling with questions and controversies, or performing experiments. As a result, learners may be more likely to remember concepts and knowledge discovered on their own.
  2.  Problem based learning:  is a learner-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject in the context of complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems. Working in groups, or individually, students identify what they already know, what they need to know, and how and where to access new information that may lead to resolution of the problem. The role of the educator is to ask probing questions, provide appropriate resources, and lead class discussions, as well as designing student assessments.
  3. Challenged based learning: is an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. Challenge Based Learning is collaborative and hands-on, asking students to work with other students, their teachers, and experts in their communities and around the world to develop deeper knowledge of the subjects students are studying, accept and solve challenges, take action, share their experience, and enter into a global discussion about important issues. Here is a link to an excellent document produced by Apple to assist educators with Challenged Based Learning. Challenged based learning is based on the following framework:

Recently, the teaching and learning at the Republic Polytechnic of Singapore inspired me, with their use of Problem Based learning. By using (PBL) their key objective is to add value to each student’s intellectual make-up in terms of problem-solving process skills, life-long learning attitude and ready-to-use knowledge. They believe graduates will be knowledgeable team players who have acquired skills necessary to handle situations, tackle problems and complete tasks in a knowledge-driven environment.

Although none of these concepts (learning methodologies) are new and have been used in education with varying degrees of uptake for several years, I believe that now they have become even more prominent and important pedagogies, especially with the increasing number of 1:1 Laptop Schools. Using Challenged based learning (or any of the methodologies mentioned above) provides:

• A multiple entry point strategy and varied and multiple possible solutions

• A focus on universal challenges with local solutions

• An authentic connection with multiple disciplines

• An opportunity to develop 21st century skills

• The purposeful use of Web 2.0 tools for organizing, collaborating, and publishing

• The opportunity for students to do something rather than just learn about something

• The documentation of the learning experience from challenge to solution

• 24/7 access to up-to-date technology tools and resources so students can do their work

All the methods of learning help to engage learners, provide them with valuable 21st Century skills, which span the divide between formal and informal learning, and embrace a student’s digital life. I encourage you to look further at some of the links here in this Blog to find out further information of how these pedagogical methods can aid and develop learning in your schools as they have done so in mine. (www.nexus.edu.my)

Written by Steven David Pearce 20/4/2011



1 to 1 Laptop Schools, Teacher Appraisal and 21st Century Learning.

After reading many articles and blogs asking the question “where do we go now” in reference to 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and the use of digital resources in the classroom. I have put together some current published research to consider  in the cycle of teacher appraisal in 1:1 Laptop Schools.  I would welcome comments to improve/adapt/expand any of the information given in this blog:

The key factor for a successful 1:1 Laptop initiative is the change and adaptability of classroom pedagogy. If a school has teachers that continue to teach in the “Traditional Educational” way, then it is more likely that a 1:1 scheme will fail. Even without a 1:1 laptop scheme, schools should have moved already to a 21st Century educational system as outlined here in the tables below. The first table illustrates how “Learners” have changed and shows what factors teachers should be considering when teaching in the 21st Century classroom. It is a comparison between the learner in the “Traditional Educational System” and the learner in the “21st Century Educational System”.

Traditional Education

21st Century Education

Learners are taught and believe that their ability will lead to success.  The more able believe they are more likely to succeed in life. Learners who are committed and exert continual effort to improve will be successful.
Learners are ranked and concerned how they are seen in others’ eyes. Learners want to be seen at the top of the ladder. Learners believe in their ability to improve and learn.  To investigate problems to find answers.
Learners enjoy rivalry and seek satisfaction from doing better than others. Learners seek out demanding and stimulating tasks that reflect their own approach to learning.
Learner seek acknowledgment from society and thrive on all types of competition. Learners are motivated and achieve personal satisfaction from their own defined success criteria.
Learners give –up when tasks become too difficult or go straight to someone else to find the answer. Learners thrive on finding answers for themselves; they investigate and have the skills to look for answers through inquiry.
Learners want to prove that they are competent Learners want to improve their own competence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning, Performance and Improvement 2010 – Chris Watkins

Teachers also need to consider how learning has changed and how they can meet the needs of the learner. I believe that teacher appraisal for 1:1 Laptop Schools should take into consideration all of the areas as shown in the table below for a 21st Century Educational System:

Traditional Educational System

(Past)

21st Century Educational System

(Present)

Learning information:  

Content driven lessons, based on learning content only without the necessary skills to learn how to use the content.

Learning to Learn

Greater emphasis on the learning of skills over the learning of content. The content relevant to a student’s interests is constantly changing and growing so students will have to continue learning new things throughout their life.

Learning data: 

Data driven lessons based on exam criteria, with a repeat and drill structure.

Learning to discover data: 

Students must play a greater role in discovering their own content so the measurement of success will be related to how they find, use, and develop accurate, relevant content.

Learners are all taught the same, with generic lessons: 

No differentiation in the lessons One size fits all.

Learning is tailored to the individual learner:  

As students progress they will increasingly access and engage with their own content, at their own pace of learning and take an increasing role in charting a path best suited to those talents, interests and abilities.

Learners are tested to assess: 

Tests and exams measure what a student learned at the end of an instructional unit or academic year.

Learners are assessed for learning: 

Technology allows educators and students to assess progress more regularly than with traditional classroom assessments and to identify and address each student’s challenges as they arise.

Learning in the classroom: 

The classroom is seen as the centre of all learning. The teacher is the centre of attention who passes on knowledge.

Learners are lifelong learners: 

Students only spend a fraction of their time in schools and there is also a need to continue learning throughout life beyond the period of formal education. This requires a more balanced approach that includes learning partners and increased engagement of parents and the community.

Based on December 2010 Premier’s Technology Council – A Vision for 21st Century Education

As an administrator I believe that most teachers have many positive skills and some areas that need improvement or development (including myself). For 1:1 Laptop Schools – My question is: Should we employ a teacher who is very skilled at IT integration, but has no skills to deal with parents and other staff? (and of course vice versa?). How many teachers are there in the world that can fulfill all or some of the criteria shown in the LoTi table below?

LoTi Level

Description

Level 0 – Non-Use The use of digital tools in the classroom is non-existent
Level 1 – Awareness Digital tools are used for classroom and curriculum management tasks, but not learning
Level 2 – Exploration Digital tools and resources are used by learners for extension activities, enrichment exercises or information gathering, to develop lower order cognitive skills.
Level 3 – Infusion Digital tools and resources are used by learners to carry out teacher-directed tasks that emphasize higher levels of student cognitive processing relating to the content under investigation.
Level 4a – Integration: Mechanical Learners use of digital tools and resources are inherent and motivated by the drive to answer student-generated questions that dictate the content, process, and products embedded in the learning experience.
Level 4b – Integration: Routine Learners use of digital tools and resources are inherent and motivated by the drive to answer student-generated questions that dictate the content, process, and products embedded in the learning experience.
Level 5 – Expansion The complexity and sophistication of the digital resources and collaboration tools used in the learning environment are now commensurate with (1) the diversity, inventiveness, and spontaneity of the teacher’s experiential-based approach to teaching and learning and (2) the students’ level of complex thinking (e.g., analysis, synthesis, evaluation) and in-depth understanding of the content experienced in the classroom.
Level 6 – Refinement The complexity and sophistication of the digital resources and collaboration tools used in the learning environment are now commensurate with (1) the diversity, inventiveness, and spontaneity of the teacher’s experiential-based approach to teaching and learning and (2) the students’ level of complex thinking (e.g., analysis, synthesis, evaluation) and in-depth understanding of the content experienced in the classroom.

Taken from the (LoTi) framework which was first conceptualized by Dr. Chris Moersch in 1994

I often read IT integrators Blogs stating we should fire/sack, get rid of all teachers who cannot integrate IT into the classroom, without really thinking there is a lot more to teaching than just IT. I have met many IT integrators, who are so wrapped up in their own world that they have forgotten or have no interest in anything else, all they seem to be interested in is the next upgrade for their iPhone.

So I believe that schools need to look at some form of Teacher Appraisal cycle, which includes two key areas:

1.     Staff Appraisal – various factors based on the 21st Century classroom/learner/learning (including the Loti Scale)

2.     Staff Training, professional development and own PD (IT integration and Current Learning Pedagogies)

However, appraisal should include a variety of different areas and the criteria that makes a good/excellent teacher. As I previously stated, IT integration is only one part of being a successful teacher, there are several other factors that need to be considered. I also note that state funded schools have different legal criteria when it comes to getting rid of the ‘Lemons’ (teachers who do not meet the appraisal criteria), than the International Schools that I base my experience on. I also believe in allowing time for teachers to acquire new skills based on agreed goals. If teachers are included in decisions and communicated with often – about 1 to 1 schemes and digital learning, then 1 to 1 schools will be far more successful.

As the educational system continues to develop and change, I believe that teacher appraisal and teacher training will become even more important in ensuring that our learners are provided with a 21st Century learning environment. Schools will be looking to recruit teachers who already have 21st Century ideals and learning pedagogies. The appraisal and performance management system will take more and more IT factors into consideration and parents will be looking for schools where their children can learn using 21st Century skills. Teachers should be aware of updating their own knowledge and skills and not rely so heavily on State or School PD (although this is a positive development) – surely this is what we are now asking our learners to do? (To be lifelong learners and develop additional skills outside of the classroom.)

Written by Steven David Pearce 17/12/2010

Benefits of a 1:1 Laptop Scheme

Recently, our school board asked me  – how can I provide evidence that having a 1:1 scheme benefits our learners and school. If any of you already have a 1:1 laptop scheme running in your school you will realize that this is quite a difficult question to answer.

Some of the benefits listed here are unique to my school (a private profit making international school), which has totally different funding, structure, mission and aims to a state owned school.  Although, our primary mission is to ensure that all our students receive the best possible education and learning environment, which is hopefully the aim of all schools.

Possible Benefits of a 1:1 laptop scheme:

1.     My (Number 1) key benefit is the access to a digital resource at any time 24/7. Learners can take their laptop home, on holiday, use at home when they are sick. For example we have had both students and teachers join lessons and meetings from home via Skype. The student connected to the teacher’s laptop and took part in the class discussions, was able to answer and ask questions from home. In our monthly staff meeting, a teacher who had a broken leg was able to join in the meeting in the same way. If a school has a VLE (virtual learning environment) students can access this learning area from anywhere at any time and complete assignments, answer questions, complete reflections and use pre-chosen teaching resources. The VLE can also be used to improve school communication, not only with students and teachers, but also with parents. Parents can access the VLE, look at their child’s work, add motivating comments, look at their report card and contact the teacher.

2.     The motivation of students, student centered learning, inquiry learning and interactive teaching.  Students want to use digital resources in the classroom; they enjoy the opportunity to have the freedom to carry out their own research, write their own assignments and to be creative using their own laptop. They can choose which application they want to use to complete their assignments, rather than using pen and paper. They can produce a presentation, record a movie, make an animation, record a speech, and design a poster. The key here is for the teacher to suggest a task, but allow the student to choose the application for completing the task (students define their own success criteria). For example if a learner has to create a presentation, they could choose to do it through Prezi.com, Key notes, PowerPoint, a movie, a radio speech, or an animation to name but a few examples. Many schools are also moving to each learner having their own Blog, this can be very motivating for the learner, when other people comment on the learners blog, they are encouraged to write more and develop their blog further.

3.     Differentiation for the student. Linked to the previous 2 benefits, learners can have access to differentiated resources and complete tasks at their own learning speed and level. For example if a VLE has been constructed properly, it should allow learners to select tasks and resources at their own level and ability. They can complete the tasks, which they feel capable of completing and at their own speed. They can refer back to their tasks at home and revisit the class information at anytime and anywhere. Allow the students to be creative, some learners will be motivated to create an essay written in Word, some would prefer to record the information in a movie or design a poster with Photoshop. As long as the learner covers the success criteria for the lesson, how they complete the task should be their own choice.

4.     Collaboration, the sharing of ideas and information. Collaboration and the sharing of ideas is the key to success of any organisation and a skill required by all our learners today. The use of Messenger, iChat, Skype, Twitter and Facebook all have a role in sharing and disseminating information. Our students already know how to use these applications and on a daily basis share a vast amount of information. Having a 1:1 laptop scheme enables the student to use these communication tools in the classroom. Some good examples of digital collaboration and sharing ideas include in a humanities lesson the ability to connect with another school on the other side of the world through Skype to share cultural ideals and beliefs. Collaboration in the classroom by using Prezi-Meeting, where learners can form a group and create online presentations, by sharing ideas and resources.

(Now for the non-learning benefits) Many of you may criticize me for mentioning these benefits, but they are factual and true.

5.     Marketing and school market differentiation, we are an Apple school and in our market we are seen as offering something that is unique, exciting and innovative compared to our competitors. Each learner from Year 6 through to Year 10 (grade 5 to 9) is part of the 1:1 Macbook Pro Laptop Scheme. The school uses this fact in its marketing, in local and international press and is a key factor to attracting learners to our school. We have had several students move from other local schools to our school because of the 1:1 Laptop scheme and the style of teaching that is linked to the scheme.

6.     No more Computer Labs. All our learners are required to purchase their own laptop, the school provides the wireless network structure for the laptops to connect to, but this cost in the long run is lower than paying for several computer labs in a school. The 1:1 laptops are covered by a 3-year warranty included in the package and fees that the learner has to pay for. The school provides a help desk and support to maintain the laptops, it also provides training for the teachers, all of this can be covered by the fee for the 1:1 laptop scheme, taking the capital and expense costs away from the school. I appreciate that this may not be so easy to achieve for a state run and funded school.

If your administrators, governors, directors are asking will a 1:1 scheme increase academic achievement, test results, exam passes, then maybe they are asking the wrong questions and have little understanding of our learners and the world today. It is hoped that by providing effective learning and the digital resources to aid learning that academic achievement and passing tests with naturally occur. However, tests and exam results are only one important part of the educational system and that other factors should be considered by providing a creative and stimulating environment where our students can learn the skills required to be life long learners.

written by Steven David Pearce 4/12/2010

Implementing a 1:1 Laptop Scheme

There are many ways to implement a successful 1:1 laptop scheme, below is a list of areas to consider. Each school, college, educational establishment will have its own factors, special areas to consider, below is my list of things to consider.

After the list below, I have included a paragraph of information related to my own specific experience of implementing a very successful Apple Macbook Pro 1:1 scheme. It should also be noted that my school charges an additional fee for the 1:1 laptop, on top of school fees.

Areas to consider:

  • Employ an innovative, knowledgeable, supportive, IT Technical Manager + team
  • Test the system first (wireless) if possible – start with a few laptop trolleys to share on a bookable system. Try them all on the system at the same time in different locations around your school. Install a manageable wireless system (Aruba or similar) where bandwidth can be controlled.
  • Train your staff, have a continuous program of In Service Training for all staff including administrators and managers. Try to have 2 training sessions on at the same time (Beginner and Advanced). Also provide training sessions for parents.
  • Try to get your supplier to pay (sponsor) for some or all of the training (try Apple 1:1 scheme) some of the branded laptop companies have dedicated educational departments – get in touch with them.
  • Ensure your laptop image has all the applications required by the learners and all the subject teachers in your school.
  • Open a 1:1 shop and dedicated help desk on site; again approach your laptop supplier for this. Try to get an Authorized Technician to run the shop/help desk.
  • Publish times when parents and students can visit the IT department in school. Have the dedicated shop – open at times convenient for parents.
  • Train student mentors to help around the school with IT innovation and ideas.
  • Ensure Cyber safety is a key feature of the 1:1 scheme – have posters, online information’s sites, Cyber safety assemblies, and Cyber safety lessons.
  • Design a practical AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) Write the policy in two different ways (one for high school and one for elementary/primary school) Fit the AUP on ONE PAGE! of A4.
  • Involve the Parents in all the stages of the 1:1 implementation; listen to their ideas, concerns and worries.
  • Produce an FAQ booklet and publish this and other documentation on the school website.
  • Produce a Learner Handbook covering all areas of the 1:1 scheme.
  • Employ an IT integrator
  • Recruit IT skilled teachers
  • Try to combine an Insurance and warranty package with the 1:1 laptop.
  • Insist on the same “type” of laptops for everyone. Using Apple Macbooks/ Macbook Pro makes this easier as they provide a generic, standardized product, with integrated, interlinked, applications etc (However, we provide a dual platform on the Macbook’s using Virtual Box for Windows in addition to the Apple platform)
  • Consider providing laptops for employed teachers’ students. If you have a teacher with 2, 3 or 4 children in your school its unlikely that you will keep them or recruit new teachers, if they have to buy 4 laptops! (we are an International School)
  • Provide a laptop for all teachers and administrators.
  • Sell the 1:1 scheme as a package – this includes maintaining and cleaning, re-imaging, warranty, insurance, laptop loan when in repair, stolen or lost software, problem solving help desk, teacher training….etc

Nexus 1:1 Apple Macbook Pro Scheme

Please do not…………….

For High School (Secondary School) – Do not restrict access to anything on the Internet for your students. Instead educate them to be responsible digital citizens and enforce the AUP (do restrict downloads at school, restrict to educational use only). Give sanctions to students who do not follow the AUP. Educate, Educate, Educate. If teachers make the lessons engaging, learners will not be tempted to play games and surf the net etc. I believe in not restricting anything, because as soon as they leave the school gates they will not be monitored and will have to learn to be socially responsible. For elementary learners we restrict 1:1 laptop use at break and lunchtimes, however senior students can use laptops all day.

My School – The Nexus International School, Putrajaya, Malaysia

It took a full year to properly plan the implementation of the 1:1 scheme. The first stage was to visit other schools in the region (South East Asia) who already had a 1:1 scheme. The second stage involved finding a suitable supplier, Apple were helpful, but to find a good, supportive Apple supplier was not easy. The third stage was to involve parents and to produce a detailed FAQ booklet to answer all their questions and concerns.

Part of the success of the 1:1 scheme at my school was due to the use of Macbook Laptop Trolley’s for 1 year before the 1:1 scheme was introduced. The school provided bookable laptop trolleys for the whole school, these trolleys are still in operation for the younger year groups and groups not in the 1:1 scheme. Because the school had the Macbook trolley’s both learners and teachers were already trained and experienced in using the Macbook laptops. Therefore when we actually implemented the 1:1 scheme, everyone was already experienced in using the laptops (everyone knew how to use an Apple Macbook)

Another positive point of the 1:1 scheme is that we first implemented it to grades 5 to 8 (Year 6 to 9).  Because of its success, other year groups wanted to join the 1:1 scheme, so within 6 months we added grade 9 (Year 10). Other year groups may also be considered in the near future.

We have an Authorized Apple shop on our school campus, this has been popular as it sells accessories and provides maintenance, insurance and deals with all warranty issues.

These points are the key areas to successful implementation in our school. If you are a school or educational establishment who would like some information or to visit the Nexus International School, please send me an email.

***something to consider for our next phase is an iPad 1:1 scheme – especially for the younger learners***

written by Steven David Pearce 25/11/2010