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 Wow ! All this discussion during lunch ! Even lunch isn’t sacred from deep thought exercises anymore. :-p

 

<How should we be using IT tools in the future to improve the learning for all students? 

 

The power of direction from innovative teaching and creative guided and unguided exploration should be expanded within and outside the traditional class / school year day.

 

Whoo, that’s a mouthful.

 

Beware, here’s one of those ‘one to one’ rants.

 

Adding up the numbers for a traditional 25 station computer lab, well, the numbers just don’t add up to be very cost effective. Especially in light of students being in school 730am-3pm ,180 days per year. Add in the expense of some recurring curriculum materials that could be converted into digital initiatives and that $1 a day lease for a laptop to be with a child 24/7 don’t seem that expensive. Add in some open source software looks to replace some of our common underutilized and expensive institutional site licenses and we’ll have even more money to tip the scale toward superior student access. Just tools in the shed. Is a ‘Powerpoint’ site license worth it’s dough over the improvements in OpenOffice (2.0) and Star Office (8.0) ? Might be for a few adults, but not across the board I’ll bet.

 

Yes, laptop initiatives are more expensive, but not as much as one might think when all the variables are added up correctly. Think of what a one to one initiative would do to get some of those lame and archaic professional development initiatives off the ground ? Morale ? Student feelings about education, opportunity, and the schools academic rigor ? Whoo. That elusive ‘engaged’ concept is really within reach.

 

There is steady progress in the world toward getting the tools in the hands of students full time:

- Maine Laptop Initiative

- All those great projects in Australia
- Harlem Laptop Project
- Many, many others are out there. While all locations and initiatives are not the same, the successful ones followed similar formulas and rationale.


There are many examples of the poorest to richest, smallest to largest schools throughout the country pulling such endeavors off – public and private. So often it comes down to the drive, good planning, good PR, and good collaboration with those entities that have already plunged in.

 

Further on, the MIT Laptop project is quite a project. Remember, right tool for the right job. It’s no multimedia workstation, but neither is my cell phone. There are a lot of critics on this one, but it is one hell of an idea. http://laptop.media.mit.edu

 

Using tools for creative, engaging, rigorous learning.: www.duke.edu/ddi <http://www.duke.edu/ddi>   is a very interesting project for those of you who haven’t seen it. 

 

Here’s some of the fuel I use for such dealings:

 

Here’s a great keynote that Seymour Papert gave in Australia. Takes a bit to get going, but most novels do for the most part. Smart guy. Quicktime required: http://homepage.mac.com/stager/iMovieTheater23.html

The link above comes from Stager.org. Gary Stager is a great read. Rip through that ‘laptop’ section on his site and you’ll see. He’s a regular, and delightfully controversial columnist on districtadministration.com as well.

 

<In terms of IT tools and teaching and learning what does the future - tomorrow, a year from now, five years, 20 years look like? 

 

From now – five years:

Now that the ‘powerpointlessness’ (great term in a post from Lauren from Mt. Abe earlier) type presentations and all those animated gif nightmare web pages are on the wane, the focus will move back toward hard and rigorous academic work on computers. Conceptual software learning and collaboration work for a variety of schools will become rampant as will those cross curricular links we’ve all been talking about for a decade. Independent Study programs in technology will become more common place and replace some of ‘traditional’ technology subjects. More research and collaboration methodologies will replace common memorization / regurgitation type activities – at least hopefully they will. Hopefully we’ll see the critics of such ‘one to one movements’ not use traditional means of academic measurement (SAT, PSAT etc) for evaluating the success of such initiatives too. Maybe we’ll even see a ‘multimedia / technology proficiency section on some of those tests – which may or may not be a good thing. Depends on who’s cooking I guess. That’s a government thing though – that might take a bit longer. 

 

Exploration for students in portable media devices: Cell phones, iPod / portable media layers, PDAs, BlackBerry type devices will become more common. That Apple and Intel partnership will prove very interesting on this front I'll bet. Ethics and usage discussions will become threaded deeper into teaching, as will access for students to practice, fail, and succeed. I’ve learned so much from failure – far beyond those step by step lab instructions where everything works perfectly. Think of cell phone usage five years ago compared to today ! IM (Instant messaging) is a very real phenomenon that will only continue to grow. Check the ‘More’ page on Google for details on some of the futures of IM and information tinkering.

 

School infrastructures will change. More widespread use of workstation imaging technologies will replace desires to lock down desktops. If students have a computer, couldn’t they image them themselves ? They sure can. It’s a lot cheaper to provide wi-fi access for communication type access than it is to cable and switch.

Five years to – 10ish: 

 

Dvorak keyboards ? Never know. Can't slow them down for ever.

Projectors: Look out. We'll actually see many of those advancements sooner than 10 years. Look at the evlolution from television sets to panels to big screen entertainment in the last few years.

 

Getting schools into one to one initiatives of some sort with community /school collaborations with broadband access for kids will move from almost strictly metropolitan to rural areas. Of course, the focal point of such initiatives is to provide access FOR learning. Some may think I’m focusing on ‘thee’ tool rather than using the tools. Shame on you if you did. ; )

 

 20 years:



We’ll still be having this discussion ! Innovation and passionate people will see to that.

 

< Add your own question and thoughts. 
I love it when people say that.

Remember those beige computer cases ? Tough to find them now. Computers and devices are becoming works of art really. Take a good look at an Apple Powerbook, iMac, alienware – or Dell computer for that matter. Try looking at the Motorola Razor cell phone and the designs in some of the palm PDAs. Noth only will the functions of those devices belnd together but all that aesthetically pleasing tech stuff will naturally draw more attention on those stark white, fluorescently lit classrooms and the impact those environments have on education and we’ll be getting somewhere ! Think of what flat panel monitors have done for classroom design already. Strange that we have focused on creating innovative, flexible, collaborative work in a such a generic and institutionalized environment isn’t it ? The trends are changing for the better. It’s amazing what you can do with some paint and some indirect lighting and comfortable chairs. Smoke and mirrors. Just ask some students who have experienced some of those ‘alternative’ learning classroom designs. Lots of creative things going on out there with classroom design. 

Frank ! This was so much more fun than mowing the lawn ! Damn, I’m done so that means I probably should mow the lawn. I think I’ll carve the rest of the pumpkins instead.

 

Adam

 

Adam Provost
Burr and Burton Academy

Manchester, VT

 

<Thanks for your help with this task. 

 

<Frank 

 
<Frank J. Watson 
<175 Poker Hill Rd