This past Saturday, March 10, I was lucky enough to attend and present at the first annual New England 1:1 Summit hosted by Burlington High School in MA. BHS is a 1:1 iPad environment, and they served as wonderful hosts for this great conference. Educators and administrators from all around the country attended this conference. I presented on two topics: my use of the iPad in college and why I believe a 1:1 learning environment in high school is incredibly valuable in preparing students for higher education and the “real world”. After reflecting on the day and reflecting on my presentation, I walked away with a thought I had never had yet. In thinking about education on a larger scale, we all know that a 1:1 environment is not attainable in every school, in every classroom, in every community. However, what is possible is to implement a school culture that I believe has grown out of the 1:1 movement. Culture is the first building block for any learning community in the direction of a 1:1 program or really any kind of 21st Century instruction. Culture comes before machines. This is so incredibly important to remember. In my home district, we are fully 1:1 in grades 7-12. However, in grades below 7th, we strive for the same culture that we do in our 1:1 grades. This includes many things. One is assessment oflearning objectives. This means, when assigning a project, teachers look for mastery of content and allow students to take ownership of how they present that content. A teacher may ask students to demonstrate their knowledge of photosynthesis, but rather than give them a specific means of doing so, will allow the students to use any available resources to do so. This not only gets the students innovating more as they navigate through this task, but more importantly makes each student’s experience unique and gives them ownership over the product they produce. Some students may make posters, some a voicethread, some a powerpoint or prezi, but this should be no problem for the educator as they are assessing on mastery learning objectives and not actual means of presenting them.
It became clear to me that more and more schools, with far less resources than a 1:1 learning community, can make a move in this direction. Students need to be pushed in the direction of innovation, increased collaboration, and communication with their classmates and community. Taking advantage of any resources we can, this is attainable. It’s amazing what 21st century skills can be fostered in the classroom just using the smartphones most kids have in their pockets these days.