I have mentioned I really like that we have stretched the useful lifetime of an important resource but that as cute as it is to have a 1:1 laptop classroom based primarily on 9 year old laptops the end is near. Our IT department has already told me the old iBooks we have probably will not work on our new network, and at 9 years old they have really been showing their age of late. Sticky and missing keys, hard drive issues, and some won’t â€œseeâ€ a flash drive when you plug one in to download files.
In comments and Twitters about past posts I’ve written mentioning this some have stated that even if we are no longer 1:1 we will still be fine because we will leverage or â€œMacGyverâ€ what we have and do great things. I agree with the what we will have to do part, if it comes to that, but it will still be a huge blow.
It’s a step backward. A 1:1 classroom done at least fairly well becomes a an intense learning environment. Students are engaged, empowered, active learners instead of sitting learning to be taught. It is an active process a far greater amount of the time (and this is one area I need to improve, is getting that and letting that happen more) and the feel of the classroom changes. People that visit pick up on that. It changes from a 1:1 laptop classroom into a learning environment that uses laptops and other tools to leverage learning.
Being â€œMacGuyverâ€ is hard work and takes valuable time during class stretching out assignments meaning you can do less â€“ often much less. And the periods before and after class setting things up and downloading and uploading files takes extra time. Time many of us would be willing to give when we can, but time is a teacher’s enemy and counting on having that time leads to stress and frustration. The technology becomes something you have to think about and do something about much more instead of a tool you just use. It adds layers of difficulty to everything you do. If you’ve ever had your pencil sharpener break in your classroom, look at how something that you usually don’t have to think about becomes a distraction and time killer.
Ubiquity is a big part of what makes 1:1 powerful. When it is your laptop and you are used to it, you stop having to think about it much and the focus becomes the learning, the producing, the design, the doing. I’ve suggested before watching 1st graders just learning handwriting. Many of them are focused as much or more on holding the pencil correctly, and where it goes on the paper. and how to form the letters, and what the next letter is and so forth and the work is prodding and the spelling and what the writing is about become secondary.
I want to move forward, not backward. I have learned much from 3 years of 1:1 and am ready to use what I’ve learned do things better, provide more powerful learning experiences. Not having that will be hard. Not impossible, but knowing what we COULD be doing IF … will be hard.
So I’m still putting out feelers for funding sources.
Learning is messy!