Our high school is starting the tenth year of having a laptop for every student and teacher. Maine has been fortunate, in 2002, Governor Angus King proposed a visionary project; a digital learning initiative - all students in Grade 7 have a laptop to use in school and at home. In 2004, our district chose to continue the plan into high school. When we rolled out , we didn’t have any models to refer to, but we knew this project had to be about good teaching and learning. Our journey has been an exciting one.
The most important change has been in our school culture. It is an expectation that the device will be used for many aspects of learning, but not all. Technology is used is purposeful ways and when it is appropriate. Teachers and students are learners exploring the connection between best practices and digital learning. Sometimes, it is difficult to tell where the teacher is in the classroom. Professional development is held often, in small collaborative groups, and based on learning new classroom practices that use technology.
Students set the tone for each year for positive laptop use by helping the technology team in the summer, presenting the information at the grade level roll outs, and being involved in the creation of the rules and guidelines. Students are empowered and often describe their learning as continuous between home and school. We trust our students to do the right thing with their devices. Many use online chat for “study groups” and some teachers have online “office hours”. Students have much more ownership over their work, often because they are given choices about how to demonstrate their learning. Student work is usually public and designed to be shown to an audience. We have visitors come to see our “technology program”. It is entirely student run, they give tours and answer the many questions about learning with technology. We do not script the day so that the guests can see how much technology is intermingled with classroom activities. Visitors leave having a much better understanding of our school culture.
Cross Posted at Microsoft Partners for Learning: Hot Topics