MuseForJews

muse: n. a source of inspiration

On taking it slow

I have a meeting Monday to talk about what new stuff we want to buy for next year. I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time. We did a needs (really a wants) survey with the staff earlier this year and we had a lot of teachers ask for interactive white boards or iPad carts. I have one colleague, who, even though she houses an iPad cart, is lobbying heavily for her own that she doesn’t ever have to share. If we bought everything people asked for (not including repairing, replacing or upgrading, including upgrading our OS including servers), it would be pretty close to 200K. That’s a lot of money.

I will admit that I work for a school that really wants to remain cutting edge. In fact, I’ve been known to admit that I’ve never had a reasonable technology request denied.

That’s why I’m recommending that we buy very little of what my colleagues want for next year.

Yup.

Not much.

In my fifteen years of working with ed tech, I’ve never heard anyone say “I wish we’d bought x a year earlier.”

I’ve never said it. Have you?

I don’t want to buy classroom carts. I don’t want to jump into one-to-one.

Right now we have thirteen carts of devices that are distributed throughout the building, mostly in classrooms, and two labs. That’s plenty for our school judging from the data (which, admittedly, isn’t completely accurate because I don’t think people who house carts are really good at reserving them). I realize sharing can be a pain, but I’m not seeing much of a justification for buying more stuff. Learn how to share, people.

What I want is to plan, share outcomes and reflect. The stuff money can’t buy.

I want to meet regularly with the teachers who have IWBs and figure out how they’re using them and how they want to use them. I REALLY don’t want to buy more without seeing where they’re making a difference NOW.

I want to meet with the teachers who want to use iPads in their classrooms and figure out how they want to use them for authentic learning experiences, not just for the bells and whistles.

Most of all, I want to figure out how we determine if these awesome tools are, well, actually doing anything other than increase student (and, maybe, teacher) engagement. You know…are the kids learning more because they’re swiping, not typing? I want systematic, allocated time for planning and reflection. I’m no fan of all data all the time, but I would like to figure out how we’ll measure success.

I do want to buy every teacher an iPad for his or own use in and out of the classroom. Some of them haven’t even held tablets yet. I want to spend next year exploring them with the staff – using them for our own productivity and sharing, modeling their use at faculty meetings and professional development.

Then, once we’ve taken a full school year to explore how we’re using them, I’ll talk about putting more into our kids’ hands.

We shall see.

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March 9, 2013 - Posted by | Education, Thinking | ,

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