one to one and you’re on your own

This photo belongs to Jonno Witts’ photostream

I was pretty excited to get the chance to go to a one-to-one laptop school. In a certain sense, you’ve reached the big time. You’ve finally made it. At some point in the process of getting familiar with the school, I was surprised to learn that we have no actual computer classes. For all intents and purposes there is no computer department.

It’s sort of funny to me how adults are always saying things like “The kids know much better than I do how to work their computer”, but I consistently find that students do not know how to use their computers with much expertise. Certainly in specific areas they know more than I do, but students frequently ask me questions to which the simplest answer is “google it”. At this point I really don’t know what it’s like at other schools, but our students are basically getting no direct instruction at the high school level on how to use their computers or the internet. I suppose the onus is on all of the teachers to carry that load, but this can be a particularly difficult battle when we have new students coming into the school who don’t have a background of using the computers in class.

So many of the concerns that we are dealing with in the Coetail classes are not the responsibility of any given teacher. I’m sure our teachers are doing a reasonable job of helping the students to manage their computers and their online footprints, but one could imagine that it would be very easy to slip through the cracks and not receive good information for how to protect yourself and how to obey legal issues of online content.

As a policy, I wonder how the decision was made to not have computer courses, as well as how well this policy is working for our students.

9 Responses to one to one and you’re on your own

  1. You bring up a good point that I haven’t thought about before. My school is pushing for all students to be required to bring their own laptops to class every day. A great advantage to this is that the students have everything at their finger tips. The students can create Power Points in their history class, Excel files in their math class, write their papers in the English class and be able to do research in their science class. Maybe that’s how the student’s can learn their basic computer skills? The English and science department can teach the students how to do a proper search on the internet for information. The math teacher can teach students how to use Excel and its formulas. The main problem with my school’s way of doing it is that each student will bring their own personal laptop, so in a class room of 30 students we will have 30 completely different laptops! (Everything from Accer, to Apple to Dell to Alien.)

  2. When technology is integrated into math, English and other courses it does reduce the importance of stand alone technology courses. I teach at the American School of Bucharest which is an IB Middle Years Program (MYP) School. In the MYP every student is required to study technology as part of a design cycle project for 50 hours each year. The school tried to teach technology solely though lessons integrated into other subject area classes but the school was not meeting the 50 hour per student per year MYP requirement. The school now has several stand alone technology courses including my 8th and 10th grade robotics courses. Students should learn how to create using technology and not just be consumers and separate technology courses give them the time to learn the skills necessary to be digital creators.

    • Sorry the first line of my comment should state;
      When technology is integrated into math, English and other courses it does NOT reduce the importance of stand alone technology courses.

  3. I';m trying to type a reply on your blog, but it keeps telling me that I am using a spammy word. I wasn’t even being rude to you!! I merely wanted to say that I agree with your thoughts. I think that there is a desperate need for professional development to teach teachers how to teach in a 1 to 1 programme. No knowledge or expertise on the teacher’s behalf leads to a very dreary, computer for computer’s sake lesson..or lessons. Teachers need to know what they’re doing.
    Still can’t work out which word was the culprit.

  4. “Tech In-te-gra-tion Spe-cia-list” is the culprit phrase. Interesting. It wont let me submit the post if I use the word. What’s wrong with that?

  5. I agree with Michelle. Professional Development for teachers is necessary for a one-to-one program/school. The need to prepare teachers before a program is launched is also imperative. Several of the readings over my last course all point to this fact. I think too many school go into a one-to-one program gung ho without setting school-wide expectations and procedures. By taking this step, students can begin to understand how to be creators with available technology within their current courses.

    • Instituting a one-to-one program is obviously a quite complicated endeavor and it is probably normal for schools that have a diverse student and teacher population to have difficulty coming to any kind of consensus. That being the case, schools are bound to make some mistakes and to have to feel out the process as it continues to grow and become part of the school culture. At my current school, I think the admin decided that a one-to-one program was the most important thing and that some of the details would need to be filled in. I don’t have a problem with that. However, as the program has matured, we have a real need now to review our policies and to focus on a clearer vision of the goals and purpose of the program and then come up with a plan for how best to implement that plan.

  6. I think a technology course and a computer lab is important even if, any school runs a one to one laptop. First, the student’s educational background is not the same. Specially, related to technological issues. Some students can easily catch up things; can do what they want in their laptop without anyone’s assistance. while others struggle just to remember what to do first. In this case they can go and ask the tech people what to do. Second, even if they have similar background since, they are using a one to one laptop; they might have a one to one problem. What is a problem to ones student’s laptop might not be a problem in others laptop? The other reason why we need a technology course and a computer lab is for the smooth process of teaching learning process. There are problems that happen when we totally depend on technology. Who is solving this? Are the teacher’s expected to be experts in technology? Do they have to be? I don’t think so. Of course, one to one laptops is important. But, let’s not forget we may face a one to one problem. Then we have to accommodate a one to one solution.

  7. What an interesting reminder. I never for a second thought students should be helped on how to use their computers. I always thought they need a guidance when it comes to what sources to use (for frauds) and how to communicate properly with the outside world but not on how to use their computer. I remember an ICS student came to the office once and asked me to define a term for her, i simply said “Google” it why come all the way to the office for just a simple thing, the student thanked me and said I gave her a wonderful idea. I was confused at the moment thinking she must have known abut this before. I never thought of this incident before I read this blog. Well students still need computer classes. We already made up our mind and said students know better than we do so they don’t need our help. This shows how we need more IT professionals in schools, to teach both students and teachers. To be part of today’s tech world we all need to enhance our knowledge on using technology and that includes students.

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