Friday, October 15, 2010

Sorry for Apologizing....

..but I had the best intentions of using this blog to track all the major transitions as my school became a 1:1 laptop school, in order to provide a road map for other tech facilitators who are going through this transition and who similarly lack some anecdotal touchstones to normalize to. Unfortunately, so much has happened already that I feel like I have missed out on some important events, but, as they say; better late than never, so let me recap what has happened so far and I promise to be more faithful in keeping up in the future.

We did all our prep work last year: created as many predictive policies as possible, kept our invested population informed through postings on our webpage, sent home announcements and proclamations, and talked incessantly to our kids about the rollout in the fall. Even with all that, there really is no way to completely prepare for the logistical challenge of getting 1500 computers into the hands of 1500 5-12 grade students. The challenge was amplified because we had laptop carts last year which were unavailable this year, so until we had the laptops distributed, none of the teachers could use any technologies at all! So we ran weekend and after-school sessions for 3 weeks: 20 kids (plus a parent) per session, three on Saturday and one every day after classes. Each session began with a one-hour meeting where I explained our Student Use Protocols in great detail, then we had a 'out of the box hands-on session' where the kids got their computers and we changed passwords, installed programs, and gave some 'care and feeding of your laptop' details.

The Student Use Protocols are interesting. Knowing how powerful the forces are for teens to participate in certain distractive technologies like gaming and social networking, we knew it was an impossible task to completely ban those at school. However, we also know that not taking a stand at all was tantamount to being fully permissive, so we discussed with the kids the importance of making responsible decisions on their own. The big mantras were "do the Right Thing" and "think of what your behaviors would be if your parents were standing behind you." In general, the appeal worked as we have had very few incidents of teachers complaining that kids are chatting excessively during class, and I don't see TOO many kids gaming during their free time, but I do have to make a conscious decision to relax and be permissive; after all, gaming isn't evil and our kids are quite highly dedicated to their schoolwork. However, I sort of expect to see a general erosion over time and am already thinking of strategies to get the kids to realign their behaviors in the near future.

OK, more later....

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