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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Changes

There are too many changes to document them all but here I will list and explain the big changes. It is so important that school administrators prepare their faculty for these changes. Trust me the students will not be your main obstacle to implementing one-2-one computing in your school.

1. Information

The way the students gather and distribute information must change. Their main source of information is no longer the textbook, or their teacher for that matter, in a one-2-one environment. You can't, nor should you, compete with the endless supply of good to great resources available online. Many teachers will not be comfortable no longer being the smartest "thing" in their classroom. We used to pride ourselves in giving extra facts that the textbook's authors "left" out. I guess we did that to to make our students think we were really smart. In one-2-one your role in teaching changes completely. You have a rough idea of where the information is. You probably know where the best information is but that is not the only place to find good information on the topic.

Old World:
STUDENT: Mr. Bishop, how many people live in Brazil?
TEACHER: Look on page 429, there is a chart of all the Latin American country's populations. (Note: our book was published in 2007; Brazil added about 10+ million people since)

One-2-One World:
Mr. Bishop, how many people live in Brazil?
TEACHER: Go to CIA World Factbook, Type 'Brazil Population' in Google, use World Database, go to the United Nation's website, etc...

The gathering of information is a skill that I really don't teach any more. The information is just there. The skill that I have to teach more now is how to filter for quality information. I guess I always did that but I spent so much more time teaching my students how to actually find the information. I much prefer the way it is now, even though I can no longer claim to be the smartest in my classroom.

2. Activities

Say goodbye to poster-board projects. Your students will never walk into a presentation with a piece of cardboard in their entire lives (unless they sell boxes). I remember having piles of tri-fold poster-boards laying on the floor in my classroom after a day or two of in-class presentations. After about a month of reminding the students to come and pick them up I put them outside my classroom for the janitors to pick up. They always enjoyed carrying those bulky things down to the dumpster. I must say, I don't miss those projects for one minute. The types of activities that your students use in the one-2-one classroom almost never deal with material items. Everything is digital for the most part. Whether they are creating a simple PowerPoint, making a movie, designing a brochure, or whatever, they are doing it on their computer and sending it to yours. This is one area that I am continually looking to grow in. I am always looking for ways to incorporate new and exciting ideas into my classroom.

Here is one example:

OLD WORLD: We watch documentary on Genocide in Darfur. I watch the movie before hand and prepare a viewing guide to keep the students focussed on what is important. They answer the questions and are graded on their correctness or completeness. I pause the movie periodically to ask more questions to see if they are following along.

One-2-One WORLD: We watch a documentary on Genocide in Darfur. Before the movie starts, I create a chat room at I never stop the documentary because during the movie we are communicating and I am asking the students how they are feeling in real time or whether they understand what is going on. They are also able to help each other understand more. They may receive a grade on their contribution to the discussion.

3. Everything else

Everything else has changed in my classroom. My gradebook is open to students and parents instantly. I encourage chatting in class. All of my tests are automatically graded (objective portions) and the students receive instant feedback. I make no copies whatsoever. I am completely paperless! I am constantly unsatisfied with what I am doing and I am always looking to add the next best tech idea to make my assignments more enjoyable and effective. One-2-one computing changes more than I can ever write. Which is why I have decided to get my thoughts out on the web. Technology is synonymous with change. If you don't see it now, just wait 6 months.

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