Pitched the 1:1 to administration on Tuesday.  Went well (Hooray).  I detected “device obsession” in the air.  “We can’t tell students they can’t have their Macs!”  Two things I've learned from research:  1) Pick the device (nearly) last and 2) the device is NOT the focus.

Is there any research I can share on this before it gets out of hand?  We are a PC environment and allow private laptops on campus (including Macs, which we are not set up to handle in a deep and meaningful way).  I tried explaining that we need to communicate early on that we are going in this direction and should encourage parents to be patient while we prepare and choose the school device.  I believe that making this decision will A) eventually take the guesswork out of it for parents and B) give them the choice of providing a second device at home that’s IF they really want to go in that direction.

Tags: 1:1, laptops, mac, pc

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Set up your 1:1 environment to be "device agnostic".

 

Device agnostic means the tools you use and the way your system is structured makes the type/model/brand of device irrelevant.

 

Google Apps is a great example. Set up your school calendar on Google, sharable with any web-enabled device. Use Google Docs for sharing, collaborating, uploading and downloading of documents. Use a web-based email service (standardizing on Google is a great way to go).

 

If you need to be standard on content creation software that is not web-based go with Microsoft Office. Word/Excel/PowerPoint are virtually identical regardless of platform, Mac or PC (Apple is even starting to release PC versions of their software too).

 

A truly device agnostic environment utilizing web-based tools such as Google Apps would make a 1:1 environment universal and accessible on Macs, PC, Linux, Android and iOS devices alike...

I'm aware of the acronym definitions. I'm also aware of how they are generically used in most situations.

PC has long been the generic catch-all for a Windows machine. In fact I don't think I've ever known a Linux user to refer to their system as a PC.

 

 

As for MS Office...

MS Office comes pre-loaded on all NYC DOE systems, it's also the most universally used and recognized productivity suite in the world. I'm no MS fan or anything, but in an effort to ensure familiarity for all involved, in and outside of school, I would/have gone with MS Office.

 

However, in general I am a proponent of web-based services so local software isn't required. Especially if the Google laptop becomes massed produce that will be a "killer app" for the 1:1 movement, imho...

I share your concern about data plans and access.  So are you using MS Office or something else (not clear from your post).  Having some familiarity with it in the US is still a good idea, I think.

On board with the "device agnostic" apps (we're already a G-Apps for Edu school). 

 

On a practical basis, how do teachers provide help with "how-to" when there are a dozen different devices in the classroom?  We've already heard that teachers may not get on board if they have to spend half the class locating menus and buttons.  Our approach has always been "integrated technology" and we don't do any direct training.

PS--is YOUR school environment agnostic?  How does that work?

Not a good assumption at our school.  We did a video project in English 11 (we have Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and I provide the orientation trainings).  Students were expected to work in labs on school computers so we could provide support, but some did the real project on their Macs and then came to me when they could not get the project off their machine as a video or DVD.  Turns out they did not have (or did not know how to use) their DVD burners.  One did all of his audio in Garage Band and then could not export (came to me for help on the due date for the project and he had nothing done besides his attempt at audio).

Do I spend my time supporting the students who are meeting expectations and working independently and have occasional issues or closet myself with a couple of individuals who did something different?

If I had a Mac, I'd be better able to do both, but I don't.  I realize this is a different issue than where I started the discussion.

We are a Mac school but everything I do is agnostic....

 

... I use Blogspot, Wikispaces, DropBox, Twitter, and Google Apps the most. I teach students on both iWork and MS Office (and I spend a good amount of time on how to export files in different formats for different purposes). My assignments can be created in a variety of software, but they all get posted as a comment on a blog, or as a file on a wiki (or exported out as a PDF...)

 

Another reason I suggested MS Office is the menu structure. Microsoft, for better or worse, created the format for most menu and file structures we use to day, regardless of OS.  Having a working knowledge of how to format or save a file in Office will allow someone to easily figure out how to format and save in virtually any other word processing/spreadsheet/presentation application.

The general population is not familiar with MacWrite and when comparing an application to someone unfamilair with it, in my experience, it is most easy to compare to Microsoft products (just because I have a copy of the original Progressive Networks encoder doesn't mean I wont use YouTube as a base of comparison for streaming media).

 

I'm not a Microsoft fan, and I hate what they have done to the lastest Office suite (at least on the Mac side the legacy menus are available) but in my experience most users are familiar with Office and how it's laid out and when teaching a new package it is most common for folks to relate it to how they function in that environment.

we launched a 1-1 laptop learning model last fall and allow our families and students to choose their own computer as long as it meets minimal specifications (click here to see our laptop learning comprehensive FAQ doc).

 

In addition to being OS and hardware agnostic, we are also software nuetral. That is, instead of requiring specific applications, we require 'genres' of applications. We require each student to have an office suite, a movie editor, an audio editor, an image editor, etc. We created a website resource for free and open source software applications and we have a disc with these titles for students to use for software installation. We wanted to build a model that allowed students and families the choice to never spend money on software if they didn't want to. 

 

Most of our students do have macs, but we also have quite a few netbooks and even one student who uses Fedora. 

 

As part of semi-strategic planning for our laptop learning model, two years ago we deployed a moodle network and we also transitioned from FirstClass to Google Apps for education. As you know, Google Apps and Moodle are fully accessible via a web browser and render the desktop OS less important for our users. Supplying these web based digital learning platforms has been very helpful in our move to such a learning model. 

 

As technologies come closer to commoditization, it becomes imperative that school IT departments build systems and networks that support all forms of IP communicating mobile learning tools. If we don't, then we lose the opportunity to leverage the computing power that already sits in the hands,  backpacks, and pockets of our kids. 

 

Matt Montagne

Thanks for the props! To be fully transparent, I do work at a small private school in the San Francisco Bay area and we are well resourced. However, I do believe that such a digital learning model scales to a wide range of K12 schools and districts. It's just a matter of rethinking and re-imagining our budgets, processes, and ethos.

 

I should also say this OS/hardware/software nuetral 1-1 computing model applies to all students in grades 6-12 at our school and that we maintain 2 traditional mac labs for supplemental use as well (I would presume that the mac labs will go away in 2-3 years when folks get more comfortable with this paradigm).

Super docs--thanks for sharing.

Do you have any required tech-related courses or a curriculum component that teachers have to implement?

Thanks, Cat. No, we don't have any such required curriculum. As a matter of fact, we don't even mandate that teachers use the laptops. If teachers don't want to use them, they don't have to. This has 'lowered the temperature' in our community and has resulted in fewer forced, inauthentic uses of digital technology. It hasn't come without costs, however. Some kids grumble that they rarely use their computers...but even these kids appreciate having easy access to a computer during discretionary time periods like study halls, lunch, etc. My sense is that more and more teachers will continue to see student laptops as serious tools for engaging in serious scholarly work. Over time I expect that we will not only see more frequent classroom use, but more meaningful and powerful use as well.

 

Are the students primarily self-taught on the computers then (so far as "hot to use" goes)?  Are their parents providing support (I know it's more likely the former than the latter)?  What if you have a student who is, for want of a better term, clueless?

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