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


21st Century Educational System


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


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