For so many educators, this school year is bringing a lot of change!
There are changes to policy and procedure, changes in high-stakes testing, and lots of changes in the way technology is being used in school. To incorporate the experiences students have outside of school and prepare them for tests, graduation, and life in a digital world, many schools are now adopting BYOD and 1:1 learning programs.
This means that teachers no longer have to depend on signing out computer labs or borrowing carts of computers. This means that students don’t have to wait to take a turn on devices in the classroom. This means that devices and access to the internet are directly available to each student all day long. This means that the climate and culture of many classrooms are changing. This means that teachers and administrators, along with students, are learning lots of new things.
Almost instantly, a 1:1 learning environment becomes a collaborative and student-centered learning environment. While classes aren’t going entirely “paperless” they are using much “less paper.” Some educators, who have been in the field for five, ten, or twenty years are suddenly feeling like it is their first year of teaching all over again.
Professional development for teachers today includes many tutorials and workshops on how to navigate some of the apps and devices the students are using. Beyond the tutorials, educators are sharing best practices for lessons and activity ideas as well as tips and strategies for classroom management in 1:1 environments.
Here are some key points to help new and veteran teachers manage a 1:1 learning environment.
- Let it happen gradually. Changing a classroom climate and culture is not going to happen overnight. Start small and start slow. Choose one new thing at a time to change, and when you get used to it, choose something else.
- The teacher is still in charge of the classroom, not the technology. When new technology is introduced into a classroom, some teachers feel like it takes over. Don’t let it. The teacher is still in charge of managing the classroom. Setting up classroom routines to “close lids” on laptops and “flip” tablets over so that the screen is hidden are helpful in making sure that students are focused on the teacher or other speakers in the class during whole group work.
- The technology is not a separate entity. The technology in the classroom does not need to be treated as anything foreign to the course. Incorporate the technology into existing classroom routines and policies instead of developing new policies around the technology. Think of it as you would a pencil, textbooks, loose leaf paper, markers, poster board, test tubes, or any other classroom materials.
- Not everything needs to happen “in the cloud” or on a device. When
something is new, we tend to want to use it all the time; that’s part of our human nature. Balancing instruction and activities that are digital or online with other methods of instruction is important, especially while students and teachers are transitioning to new ways of doing things. Hybrid learning environments are most like what students are familiar with outside of school anyway.
- Use the technology to transform and redefine the learning experience. Aside from direct instruction that is intended to teach students a particular computer skill or program, don’t use the tech just for the sake of technology. Once familiar with technology options and uses, thinking about how the technology will improve or redesign lessons will make choices about integrating technology much easier.
- Make sure students feel like they have a voice. Students want to find out new ways to do things and they want to share what they know. Let them. Giving students a change to share what they know or ask them for help will create a strong community feeling in the classroom and everyone will learn the best ways to utilize the technology that is available.
- Keep assignments about what students learn, not the tool they use. When assigning a task, don’t worry so much about the program or app the students will use to complete it. Give clear, concise directions (and a rubric or checklist) so that students know what concepts and skills you are looking for them to demonstrate…and leave the rest up to them. Let them decide if they want to use type a document, make a video, or use pencil and paper, as long as they meet all the requirements of the assignment.
- Speak honestly and routinely with students about good digital citizenship. Remind students that the internet is a public space. Remind students that they should treat people online fairly and kindly, just as they would in person. Remind students that the technology they use in school is not a toy and should be used for academic purposes.
The education profession will keep changing with the world around us, even after we move to BYOD and 1:1 learning environments. New research, new technology, and new policies will continue to change education as we know it. Once the practices listed above are in place, it will be difficult for any teacher or student to imagine a 1:1 learning environment without them, and it will make it a lot easier for everyone to adapt to future changes.
What did YOU do in school today?