Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Trying to Envision the 1:1 Classroom Environment

The Maryland State Department of Education recently released The Maryland Technology Plan for the New Millennium: 2007-2012. A few summaries of this plan include:
  • A 1:1 student to computer ratio at the secondary level
  • A 1:3 student to computer ratio at the elementary level
  • Staffing of 1 instructional technology specialist for every 100 instructional and administrative staff members
  • Staffing of 1 technical support staff for every 300 computers, 1 local area network (LAN) administrator for every 40 servers and 1 wide area network (WAN) administrator for every 25 sites
While this plan excites me, it also makes me wonder! Logistically... how do you fund these initiatives? How do you fit this many computers into the classrooms we currently have? How do you train educators to use all this technology effectively? etc...

Truth be told, I am spending a fair amount of time right now trying to figure out what this 1:1 device really will be. Will it be a laptop? That seems unlikely, and I'm starting to think that it's not the best option. Are we really going to have elementary students lugging a laptop back and forth to school every day, and if we do.... will the laptops be safe?! Also, what does a classroom full of laptops look like? Frankly, the picture below does not excite me. (Image found embedded in this article about using laptops to increase student achievement.)

While the students have access to technology, the classroom looks so traditional that I'm not sure we've made much advancement towards 21st century learning. If students are quietly sitting in rows, clicking away at their own computer, are we making any progress towards teaching students to work collaboratively to learn? Are we encouraging students to use the technology to create like their generation is so apt to do?

I believe our vision for the future of educational technology has to encompass discussions that are more broad than "should we give the kids laptops, hand-helds or amazing cell phone?" Our discussions need to focus on the learning environment, the content, and the method of instruction.

In the meantime, I'm also asking myself the logistical questions.... currently I'm trying to explore the pros and cons of the options available now--- are hand-helds a viable option? Are laptops the way to go? What about some of these newer devices.... can cell phones (maybe Apple's) do the job, what about the $100 Laptop?

2012 is not far away! That means there's not a whole lot of time to get answers to all these questions! On the other hand, it means that we're going to see a lot of change in our classrooms in the near future... that's only 5 years. Although I can't even imagine a classroom with a 1:1 computing situation, it's exciting to try to picture it!

1 comment:

Linda said...

In reading recent articles about the failure of 1:1 laptop programs, I've been struggling to put my finger on what it is about them that didn't work. Your comment about the photo of kids with their laptops looking so "traditional" hit it on the head. It is not about just handing over the technology. Those of us who have been involved in technology training have known that for a long time. It is about what we DO with the technology, or more specifically, what TEACHERS do with the technology.