I will be presenting at the 30th Annual VSTE Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. My presentation title is On the Road to Deeper Learning, and it will focus upon the vision behind our 1:1 program.
Deeper Learning through Projects, Personalization, and Play
I will be presenting at 12:45 PM on Thursday, December 3 in Williamsburg. The theme of this presentation came from the article that Dr. Gretz and I had accepted into Virginia Educational Leadership this past spring.
I’m proud to announce that our 1:1 program with iPads has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished Program for 2015-2017. Roughly 300 schools and districts have been recognized around the world; beyond the U.S. in places as diverse as Singapore, Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, Malaysia, Thailand, and Brazil.
Goochland’s program began in 2013-14 as a pilot program in grades 3-5 at Goochland Elementary School before expanding to additional schools. This school year the program provides iPads for students to take home across the division in grades 4-7, in addition to the third grade at GES. Next year, the division plans on expanding the iPad program to grades 3-8. Creativity, personalization, individualization, and student passion are at the heart of Goochland’s approach to learning with individual technology. With iPad, teachers and students are working together to redefine learning, as it supports achieving the division’s mission of maximizing the potential of every learner.
The Apple Distinguished Program designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence, and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments.
This designation will place us in contact with other schools implementing 1:1 programs so that we may continue to grow and learn in this evolving process. It also opens up the opportunity to host other educators from across the region to visit Goochland and see our environment and work towards deeper learning.
At the start of November, we will publishing an interactive ebook in iBooks format that communicates our vision for the program and highlights the components that we believe make a strong 1:1 program. Stay tuned to our homepage for the publication of this book.
Thanks go to our teachers, school board, and technology staff for making the dream of a 1:1 possible!
For examples of other superlative programs, visit Apple’s iTunes portal for other iBooks-compatible resources that share stories from other schools and programs.
Recently, at one of our parent nights for our iPad 1:1 program, a mom approached me about my thoughts on screentime, and specifically, what did the research say about it? Were kids possibly being put at jeopardy with too much time in front of an iPad?
I have a couple thoughts on this, that I have shared with a number of parents. Some of these thoughts were also echoed by our teachers in the program.
- Our iPad program does not prescribe students being actively in front of, and using, an iPad all day long. It’s hard to say how much time per day a student is looking and interacting with an iPad (or laptop for that matter), but within a 1:1 environment, that time might range from between 60 minutes to 3 hours per day.
- All screentime is not the same. We have traditionally thought of screentime as time spent in front of a television. Later, video game systems were lumped into the concept. Now, it’s any time facing a backlit screen. We know that your brain is doing very different things between watching a television show (passive) to working out a puzzle game on an iPad (active). So, if we think if “screentime” as a way to kill off brain cells and waste time, video games, Google searches, and creative pursuits using software on a device are all actually brain-developing pursuits of time. That said, we do be believe there is a healthy balance and we hard to maintain that at school. It’s important for parents to help with that when the iPad goes home. Students still need active time away from all electronics, and hopefully interacting with peers and family face to face.
On the side of research, this study recently came out specifically looking at younger children from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They seem to echo my sentiment about choosing brain-active activities.
This 2008 report details how families used technology in the home, and more recently, this 2015 report details how teens are relying upon technology for romance. Both articles do not make a case whether or not technology as a whole is good or bad, but its presence in our lives is changing the way we spend our time.
There are two difficulties I see in proving or disproving whether or not technology use by younger students is appropriate or not. The first is that looking online will reveal a range of opinions. For instance, this blog post is in support of technology being a part of an early childhood education program. And research studies, like this dissertation, don’t exactly answer the question, and may be difficult for everyone to understand. The second issue is that because technology use is so ubiquitous today in many American households, it would be hard to conduct a true comparison study to look at child development with the absence of technology.
In the end, our 1:1 program is being developed to stand on a foundation with a few core beliefs. Among those is that the use of technology in a classroom should aim higher than simply replacing a the types of tasks that were undertaken by students without technology being present. Using the SAMR model, our aim is to provide, invent, and design new types of tasks that take advantage of ways of learning that would not have been possible without the technology being present. Another belief that does not parallel the first, is that technology can be used to make learning more efficient–both for the instructor and the student. We do not emphasize this, but tend to think of it in more student-centered ways. For instance, if assessment of student needs and strengths can be streamlined using technology, it can equip our teachers with more time and ability to individualize learning and based on a student’s needs.
Our final iPad Night for parents is tonight, Monday, October 5, 2015. We have loved the opportunity to engage with parents and love all the questions.
We’re almost done with iPad deployment this year, and coming up, we have some parent nights for learning more about the iPad program.
Our technology team, headed by Peter Martin, has been responsible for the behind-the-scenes work in setting up and configuring iPads. I know Ginni Nichols and Mike Arrighi have been helpful leading up to handing out iPads to students. Our library media specialists have also been instrumental in making sure iPad deployments ran smoothly.
We continue to struggle with Apple ID requirements for students. I want parents to know we regret the process has to involve coming to our schools and spending time creating these accounts.
I am looking forward to where we are 3 weeks from now – when the real exciting things really start to take shape with deeper learning. As I watched tonight at home the new Apple announcements for the iPad Pro, the new iPhones, and the Apple Watch, I was less impressed by the hardware or Apple’s new software. What stood out for me was what people were doing with these mobile tools. We might not yet be at the level that doctors, engineers, artists, and photographers are yet on the professional level with these tools, but there is something to be said about the inspirational notion of a tool doing something well and effortlessly to help us achieve our goals. Please know our team of educators this year is dedicated towards making these tools work for kids to help them realize their full potential. Through apps? Yes, but more through creativity, innovation, and hard work.
Back in the late fall of 2004—yes!, just over ten years ago—I started podcasting for Goochland County Public Schools. These were audio-only. Some podcasts were conversations with then superintendent, Frank Morgan. The main idea behind the podcast was to highlight the good things we were doing with technology in our schools.
Today, TechTimesLive is still updated, albeit more slowly than before. With 167 episodes, there is a considerable amount of content I have pushed out, online, with a focus changing to providing professional development videos.
What’s special about podcasting?
> Podcasts are one form of serialized, creative communications. It’s more of a delivery method than media, but we tend to think of podcasts as audio or video files that we can listen to using a mobile device like an iPod or a phone. But what’s interesting is the process involved in creating these files and the potential for a world-facing audience once they are published.
You see, podcasts (and here I need to be specific) are like television shows, a magazine, a blog, or a YouTube channel. It’s an umbrella container for episodes. Just like a magazine has multiple articles (or a regular column, month to month), a blog has posts, and a YouTube channel has multiple videos, a podcast is organized around a topic with multiple takes on that topic.
Why might I start a podcasting project with students?
Podcasting in the classroom can take some time, which is why, in a 1:1 environment, podcasting becomes a new type of homework assignment. The key is—students will love making podcasts if we can focus the series on something students want to know about. There has to be a little passion behind the theme of the podcast, otherwise, producing episodes will feel like tedium and an audience beyond the teacher will be less likely…
When you produce episodes in a podcast, you have to be organized, know what you are talking about, and polish your presentation. In my recent effort in producing a new podcast outside of work, I thought it would be easy. But when I set out to actually do an episode, suddenly, I realized it was more work. But it was still fun. And after I recorded each episode, I knew a lot more about the topics I had chosen to focus on in each 20-minute episode.
How important is the audience?
We don’t play television sitcoms on TVs in forests where there are only birds and trees. An audience is important, but it does not have to be huge one. As Chris Anderson taught is in his 2006 book The Long Tail, there is a huge amount of diversity in interests out there, and published podcasts, I believe, are likely to be of interest to somebody. For students, that can be a peer, a relative, or even a stranger who shares a similar interest with the student.
How do I get started?
Share some examples. You might start by making it one choice in several for a student, not everyone is required to make their own show. Some students may choose to work together, and that’s fine. While the iTunes Podcast Directory (open iTunes Store and click to Podcasts) has ton of examples of podcasts, you might also share the video episodes put together by Super-Awesome Sylvia.
Does it have to be a podcast?
No. The point here is serialized creative communications. More examples can be found in YouTube videos produced by teenagers and college students, blogs, live streams of video game playing, a really cool Flickr account, and more. The point is, we get into a habit with our communication, sharing in a somewhat regular fashion, as a way to share, but also teach ourselves more about something that matters to us. While 1:1 technology is not required, it’s a pretty awesome use of our devices, and a good reason personalize learning.
For more on using GarageBand to produce a podcast with iPad, visit this online tutorial for some tips!
This week we had our second 1:1 computing training, ever. Sometimes this is called ubiquitous computing, meaning “the technology is everywhere.” For SY 2014-15, we are expanding our 1:1 program with iPads to Year 1 – with 5th and 6th grade covered across the division.
Teachers from all of our schools save for GHS attended for learning about our 1:1 program. I’d like to say it was all about using the iPads students will receive in the fall, but it was not! It was focused on deeper learning, engaging students through instructional decisions, and some theoretical concepts like SAMR, TPACK, and more.
I had a lot of fun watching Zoe Parrish, Bea Leiderman, and Joe Beasely work with our teachers in an effort to allay fears and prepare them for delivering the best learning opportunities possible to students next school year.
We also looked at Schoology as a learning management solution for use with the iPads and with laptops for next year. A few core apps, QR codes, and some experience with Google Drive rounded out the experience.
Our next and final summer training is in July: 28th, 30th, and 31st!
As I shared earlier in a tweet, this was the first training session I’ve ever participated in where teachers wanted a hug at the end. I was moved by the commitment of our teachers to inspire our students and to prepare them for their futures.