Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Are Students Saying About 1 to 1?


Nearly half-way through the school year, we interviewed our high school students and their teachers who are participating in the first year of a 1:1 pilot. We wanted to get their impressions of how teaching and learning is changing as a result of our 1:1 implementation with iPads.
In general, we received many responses that you would expect, and we received several that were surprising.  The overall tone of the comments was one of enthusiastic support for the learning and behavioral changes that were taking place in the students, as well as their teachers.




1:1 Students' Expressions
  • Many students acknowledge that their organization of documents and files using the iPad and cloud storage service (Dropbox / Google Drive) is much improved over using notebooks and papers that tend to become disorganized or lost.  There is no excuse for lost work since it should all be accessible through the web connected technology.  (NETS-S #6)
  • Students admit to having to be more accountable for their classwork.  Anytime / anywhere connection to the teacher means no excuses for missing assignments or not preparing for assessments - many of which are now given online.  Students greatly appreciate being able to keep in contact with their teachers, and collaborate with classmates in the event of absence, or when clarification or assistance is wanted.  They value the immediate feedback that the online assessments provide.  (NETS-S #2)
  • Students appreciate that nearly all of the learning material is accessible through their iPad.  They don't have to carry a large backpack full of heavy books.  It is common to see the 1:1 students gathering in the hallway and the cafeteria with their iPads to compare notes, discuss apps, share music, or watch YouTube videos with their classmates.  Although primarily social, they also use this common time to troubleshoot tech issues and solve problems related to learning more from their connected resources.  (NETS-S #2, #4, #6)
  • A small percentage of our 1:1 student population is transient, in that some students have recently moved into the district.  These students report and appreciate being able to keep in touch (Facetime / Skype) with friends at their previous schools, or in a few instances - friends and family in their former country.  (NETS-S #2)
  • Some students commented that while they struggle with language or writing at times, they have been able to demonstrate knowledge in creative ways.  Such as making videos, or using apps like Educreations, or NearPod to create lessons or presentations that provide evidence of understanding - vocabulary, reading comprehension, and research reports.  (NETS-S #1, #3, #4)
  • A few students admit that having an authentic audience creates pressure for them to do high quality work.  They also mention having a better understanding of appropriate and responsible sharing / posting of accurate information using web resources such as Learnist, Pinterest, and Twitter.  (NETS-S #2, #3, #5, #6)
All of the students in our 1:1 pilot recognize that learning is rapidly changing for them.  They feel privileged, not only because they have been provided an iPad, but because teachers seem to be customizing and personalizing the learning experiences just for them.  To quote my colleague, Shawn McCusker, "this experience is giving students real time learning opportunities, along with a voice upward and outward from the confines of the classroom".

You can see from the student responses, that we are just embarking on the journey towards transformative learning.  In the months ahead, I anticipate that students will begin to connect, communicate, and collaborate with more sources outside of the school, their social circles, and their immediate communities.  We will begin to see more frequent and recognizable instances of higher level thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, along with shared, authentic products of learning.

"Are your 1:1 students saying what our 1:1 students are saying?"

It is my hope that teachers will model the benefits of learning and growing through connections with a personal learning network. (+Edudmic)  Our students are quite adept at using social media for connecting and communicating.  The challenge for us as "learning leaders" is to channel the students' online energies towards meaningful learning experiences.  I would also like to see our students challenged to solve real problems using these new technology tools and connections that they provide.  Ultimately, if we can inspire students to become "self-regulated" (Shelley Wright) in their learning, and they choose to use their learning experiences to help others, and solve problems, then we can say without question, that the decision to transform learning through methods supported by technology is absolutely correct.

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