"Where do I start?", "What do I need to do?" and "How do you make this work?". If you have ever started something completely new, you probably have muttered these to yourself along with "What have I gotten myself into?!?!".
When Scott Robinson and I started Digital Immersion at Riverside Secondary four years ago, we came up against these same daunting questions. We didn't know anyone running a one-to-one laptop class let alone a complete multi grade laptop initiative. We decided to set up framework that gave us the ability to roll out one grade per year (starting with grade 9). My goal is to talk about that process and hopefully give you a model to roll-out a complete class/program using tablets or laptops.
Step 1: Ask some Questions!
First off, you have to sit down and seriously ask yourself three things:
1) Am I ready to commit to this? I mean fully commit to allowing 30 students simultaneous access to the web where you are no longer the "sage on stage" but instead the lead learner. You can't fake running a 1 to 1 class and get results. The kids will just look it up themselves and call you out.
2) What is my end goal? Do I want to fully integrate everything I do into a digital ecosystem? i.e. am i going to get kids to publish everything they do instead of hand work in? Am I going to make collaboration my core model, where every student is accountable not only to themselves but to the entire class? Or do I want to have some toys that I can bring out and use when the library computer lab is booked? What about when I really don't have a great lesson prepared? This might sound cheeky but 31 iPads will cost your school ~$15000. If you can use that money more effectively than please do so!
3) Do you have the support of your administration? It seems like a simple thing to ask but they are accountable for the learning that goes on in e school as much as you are. If they are spending 15K on technology, you better have their support and a plan!
Additional questions (or what we should have asked!):
1) Are your students ready for this? Is there a need? If students are using their personal devices in class to take pictures of answer books or search wolfram|alpha... then its time.
2) Is you staff ready? This is the biggest challenge and one that we will cover in our Human Infrastructure post
3) Is your parent community ready for this? This one is a challenge because parents tend to fall back to their own experiences in school... which is vastly different than this model. A clear communication channel, a research based approach and someone with experience in the process can allay a lot of fears.
What if one or more of these questions results in a "No"? Do you continue or wait? If you say no to any of the first 3 questions, you need to put the program on hold. For the second set of three, one or two "No's" won't kill the program but it will make it more challenging.
Step 2: Goals!
Look at the questions you just asked and start Searching! There are tons of classes out there now and many teachers on Twitter with experience about implementing/starting/rolling out a new program. At Riverside, we started with Schooling by Design and Understanding by Design and a Pro-D session with Grant P. Wiggins and Jay McTighe. Using the Backward Design Process we came up with our goal.
From a huge list of ideas, we settled on the following:
"The goal of Riverside’s Digital Immersion program is develop a student who can use a wide variety of digital tools and strategies to propel their learning".
We then decided to roll out the program one year at a time and within 4 years, have a full program running (grade 9 - 12).
Once you have this, you are ready to move onto: Step 2: Physical Infrastructure
PS: sorry for the editing/spelling errors... Put that down as a reason not to Blog via an iPad :)