Over the past two days, I attended the Glacie Conference in Toronto.  We had the privilege of interacting with a group of educators from Scotland as well as one from Maine and it was so amazing to hear how they use technology in education!  My mouth was (and still is) salivating at the thought of how much technology both groups have to use in their classrooms.

One of the educators from Scotland was discussing the use of Macs in their classroom.  It was so interesting to hear her describe the students’ use of Garageband and Keynote when working on assignments.  The key aspect that I appreciated though, was that she emphasized that the computers are a tool and that the educators must have a purpose for using the technology rather than just saying here’s the computer now work.  She also described how intuitive the students are with the computers and that their creativity just abounds when they get to use the technology.  Her ideas really resound with my philosophy of technology in the classroom and in all honesty, talking with her was one of the highlights of the conference for me!  Thanks Gillian!

The group from Maine were from the Maine Support Network and they had a really interesting presentation about their use of technology in the classroom.  Maine has a 1:1 laptop to student program for their middle schools and they are now moving it into the high schools.  I can’t even imagine the possibilities if every student had his or her own laptop to use every day at school.  The presenters had us consider how we could infuse technology to aid in student learning and engagement. It makes me wonder, though, did it take a while to get all of their colleagues on board for this kind of new teaching?  I would consider myself a ‘digital native;’ however, I know many other teachers do not embrace the concept of technology in the classroom or are scared of looking like a fool in front of their students. I, myself, have no qualms about not being the ‘all-knowing teacher’ so it doesn’t bother me, but I can imagine that it would be a difficult sell for others.

Finally, my last question about the Maine 1:1 program is about funding.  Where do they get the money to buy every student a laptop?  Our technology budget has just been reduced, and in this economy, is not likely to be increased for a long time so it makes me curious about how we can get more money flowing into our classrooms with a focus on technology without it being diverted to textbooks or other expenses?

Thanks for reading and as always, feedback is welcome and encouraged!

Jamie

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4 thoughts on “Reflection

  1. One of the big advntages the US seems to have is a federal dept of Education, and a much stronger state dept. of Education. Seymour Papert and Maine Gov. King were instrumental in the 1:1 if I recall correctly. Papert spoke to a group in Toronto back in 2001 about the effort to get the Maine 1:1 going.

    The other driver I think is how politically active the Ed-tech community is in the US relative to us. Look for example at the NYCSATE (New York’s subject-group for ICT). http://www.nyscate.org/. They have a whole section of their site on advocacy. It seems quite foreign to us in Canada, but we could learn from them on how to influence decision makers…

  2. I have a school in my district that is piloting a 1:1 program, I’m a bit insanely jealous. I would love to see the concept expand and grow, there is great potential, but funding is definitely the issue. At this point it is a special grant to try it out, I’m not sure how it would fit into a regular budget. Great post!

  3. I agree with Shellterrell–good post. I’d love to see my classroom go 1:1 someday. I teach third grade and am steering things toward technology whenever I can.

    Here’s a friendly question for you: if you walked into your classroom tomorrow and found a laptop on each student desk in the room, what would you do with them after a month? You know, once the newness has worn off.

    It really is a friendly question. I’ve found myself not using the computers in my classroom more often than not. My philosophy is “technology whenever possible,” but my actual practice doesn’t always reflect that. I’ve asked a lot of my peers the “what if” question, and have been surprised to hear that there’s usually not a solid answer. Hmm.

    One final thought: there are a lot of computers out there that no one is using. If you put the word out to your students/parents, you might be surprised how many get sent (donated) your way. It seems like no one knows what to do with their “old” computer. I’ve got 8 sitting in my classroom now–they’re not the newest, but they do the trick!

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