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Great Teaching + 1:1 Tech=21st Century Learning

 

Whether for good or bad, the Internet and the information revolution have impacted nearly every aspect of society and social organizations, including our schools and how our students learn-and the challenge becomes how to address that impact. Technology and the Web have changed how students learn, study, and research, as well as how they interact with information, teachers, and each other. From Khan Academy to BYOD to Disrupting Class, it is increasingly clear that this is, "Not your father's school," and educational leaders who don't respond and plan accordingly will see their schools left behind. Jonathan Martin

As the Superintendent of Coast Unified School District (CUSD), a coastal community in California that has implemented 1:1 iPads, I have learned much about the ingenuity innately embedded in our students and educators and how those skills can be maximized with 1:1 utilization.  

Common sense told us that utilizing cutting-edge technology in the K-12 environment would increase student engagement, as the novelty and “cool” factor of the iPads are hard to miss.  However, many unintended positives and lessons have emerged in the midst of this process.

First, let me start by stating that technology does not replace effective teaching.  The teachers first have to be skilled in teaching critical thinking, comprehension AND content, as simply employing an app or computer device in the classroom does not increase learning or accountability for learning.  

To prepare for the implementation of the new Common Core’s College/Career Readiness emphasis, CUSD has been training its teachers in critical thinking and content area literacy best practices for the past four years. Teachers have engaged in extensive PD focused on PDP Cornell Notes, Content & Academic Vocabulary Acquisition, Pre-During-Post Content Comprehension methods, Engagement and Non-Fiction Writing.  We have been learning and using research-based instructional methods and our students’ achievement has increased.  In fact, our district was recently recognized for the first time by WestEd and the California Department of Education as a “California High Performing District,” as all sub-groups have improved their achievement levels four years in a row.

With that being said, because the teachers were already providing an environment conducive to learning, the timing was right to implement new technology (iPads) to further enhance instruction.   

According to our teachers, administrators, and students, these are the benefits of 1:1 iPads:

*increased collaboration between students, students/teachers, teachers/teachers and teachers/parents

*equal access provided to cutting-edge tech for ALL socioeconomic groups

*decreased behavioral issues as energy-filled students are “touching the glass” and they are more enthusiastic about learning and interacting with the material

*enhanced teacher awareness of the multiple ways in assessing student learning-not just multiple choice tests

*improved student attention as apps are graphic friendly, interactive and colorful

*apps on iPads are safer than normal computer use as “internet surfing” isn’t occurring

*increased collaboration and project-based learning

*with Apple TV, students can show their work to the class - immediately sharing what they have completed

*iPads are portable-students can take them into the science lab or outside to complete projects and not be limited to sitting at their desks

*technological skills and experience are increased-students are better prepared to compete in the tech competitive college and career realm

*cross-curricular integration is enhanced, i.e., students can measure their heart/ breathing rates during PE and apply it to cellular respiration in science lab

*eliminated the need for students to carry heavy backpacks as many texts are on the devices

*increased teaching time as “anytime-anywhere” learning is possible (flipped classes)

*drastically decreased amount of photocopying-homework, tests, labs, etc. can be created on iPad and submitted electronically

*virtual tours-students and teachers tour landmarks such as the White House and engage as if they were on-site

*allows more opportunities to communicate with text, imagery, sound and animation-increasing student engagement via different learning styles

*decreased loss in transition time during class as all the materials are on the device

***Most importantly, students are working at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy (analyzing, evaluating, creating) more than ever before

We have learned during this implementation process that not all apps are created equal; therefore, it is important to evaluate the usefulness of an app by asking questions such as:

*Does this app allow students multiple ways to communicate knowledge (images, voice, video, etc.)?

*What critical thinking value does the app bring to the learner?

*Is the app user-friendly for variety of skill-levels (including Gifted, ELs & SPED)?

*Does the app allow for material to be published on-line if desired?

*Are there privacy/security concerns with the app?

One of our primary concerns in this endeavor is student safety and privacy, so we utilize “Lightspeed” technology, which provides unauthorized content filtering, user security and anti-virus protection.  We have also incorporated digital footprint & citizenship (netiquette) training to both students and parents to increase their awareness in developing and protecting their on-line identities.

In addition, we have experienced the value in communicating the educational benefits of such technology to parents and the community, emphasizing the collaborative, flexible, creative and active learning opportunities the iPads offer our students.

As educators, we are ultimately preparing students for professions that haven’t yet been created.  The 1:1 implementation, when coupled with effective instruction, allows us more creativity and opportunity to better prepare our students for the critical thinking demands of the 21st century. It also emphasizes that memorization is not our educational focus; instead, student-centered analysis, inquiry, collaboration and innovation are the foundation of our educational program.

Chris Adams is Superintendent of Coast Unified School District in Cambria, CA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

I am guessing that having a phenomenal IT Director must have contributed to your success ?

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHD

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