It’s not easy setting up a 1:1 environment across a whole school district–even if it’s a small school district. Some of the necessary steps include purchasing devices and carts, configuring devices, running cable, installing access points, constructing a system for damaged computers, troubleshooting, and much more.
The good thing about all these tasks is they result in outcomes that clearly show whether or not the objective was met. The devices are either purchased and configured or they’re not. The cable and access points are either installed or they’re not. Being able to pick up and fix damaged computers occurs or it doesn’t. The effects are tangible and easily quantified.
This isn’t the case when you want teachers to use devices in their classrooms. There’s no magic number of PD sessions necessary to win over a teacher’s affection for web based programs. There’s no special place or time in which PD sessions can be held that will foster the effects you’re seeking. One-size-fits-all approaches are obviously useless, and so are many of the consultants who promise to build ‘capacity’.
You can create a perfect technological infrastructure, but you can’t make people use it–this is true. So what do you do?
You find individuals who see value in the technological possibilities at each school site. You then pay those people as much as possible (even if it’s a measly stipend) to serve in two functions:
- Provide communication to each school regarding everything from device maintenance to instructional best practices.
Teach teachers how to blend student learning.
Those are straightforward objectives and wonderful ways to start this portion of the deployment. Here’s something that’s very important to remember:
As these technology leaders perform their duties, they will naturally develop niches about which they’re passionate. Some will geek out over Google products. Others will become cliff divers and explore the new programs that are continually being created. Some will discover tricks and tools of which you’re not aware and begin sharing the information with colleagues. When this happens, your 1:1 deployment is finally getting started.
This is because no school or district can have one all-knowing sage who is an expert at every technological tool. Even one tech/instructional coach with no family who sleeps, eats, and breaths edtech can’t keep up and master every product out there. Because of this, it’s extremely important for the instructional leaders at each school site to build their niches and be the go-to person for that particular specialty. That way when teachers have questions, they can be guided to the answer by someone who has a depth of knowledge concerning the pertinent hardware or software.
Crowdsourcing is accomplished in many fields, and education is no different. If anything, crowdsourcing can be done most effectively when learning is the objective. The internet makes this possible, of course, but so does the disparate skill sets and interests all teachers possess.
Purchasing 1:1 devices is straightforward. Building up leaders isn’t, and that’s why people are the best investment.