Check this list before you start your 1:1 program -- or to improve an existing program.
Search for more funding: The state may be providing machines and some training/support but I will guarantee it will not be enough. Questions to ask yourself: What extra financial resources can be deployed by the school? How much can the photocopying/textbook budget be scaled back? What needs to be done to the infrastructure of the school and classrooms?
Support Professional Development. Training must be innovative, especially in the creation of time and space to learn. Most of the budget allocation should go to training staff and ongoing teacher professional learning rather than ‘nuts and bolts’ stuff. PLNs are very inexpensive options. Models of continuous learning rather than outdated one-off training programs are needed. Mostly, it is about a changed mindset.
Create a small, motivated team to do some thinking and proposing to the whole staff. The team could include the librarian, a classroom teacher, and member of the senior executive as well as the “tech brains” at the school. This is for the committed and able—not just to meet but to determine what your school really needs and how to get it.
Create high expectations of, and from, the school leadership. If leaders can’t turn on the laptop, engage in meaningful conversation about the impact of digital technologies on pedagogy and most importantly, show a willingness to learn, fail and smile (most of the time) through the challenge, it is unlikely their troops will buy into the rhetoric. The “talking the talk and walking the walk” cliche is important.
Create Procedures and protocols. The devil is in the detail and it is essential that the practical realities of ubiquitous laptops usage is given a high priority. However, the temptation will be to focus on this rather than pedagogy. What happens when it rains and not all students have shelter? What do I do if my laptop is broken or stolen? What are the rules? Where can I find the policies, procedures, and protocols? Some brainstorming sessions with students, staff and parents will raise a host of unanswered questions. Find the answers!
Keep students in the loop. Have the Student Council provide leadership and be part of the formal and informal dialogue. Distribute ideas, queries, enthusiasms, and fears. Teach them about the importance of posture and raise awareness about ergonomics and best practice. All students must be able to and often access their email and MOODLE accounts. Make it worth their while to access these accounts!
Advocate appropriate models of pedagogy and encourage staff to think differently about what an effective lesson format might be. Provide examples and dynamic presentations that model effective learning experiences. The school must insist that an appropriate range of pedagogies are employed. The concept of a “Personal Learning Environment” is fundamental to having the entire school community understand the paradigm shift that ubiquitous laptop usage (with good wireless) can facilitate.
Keep the parents and the community informed. Help them understand Web 2.0, cybersafety, and other digital technologies. Communicate using these technologies. What can parents do to support? Talk about practical and theoretical issues. How can my son or daughter ensure their posture is good when using their machine? What happens if…?
Reflect. The continuous cycle that incorporates and acts on this reflection permits failure and allows for renewal. Innovation and risk-taking are encouraged and stagnancy resisted at all costs. Everyone must be free to be critical. We also all need suggestions for the future.
Darcy Moore is deputy principal at Dapto High School, Dapto, NSW, Australia in 2006. He has been active in the NSW English Teachers’ Association especially as Manager of the Web & Technology Committee. Read more on Darcy’s blog: http://darcymoore.net/