My school has just wrapped up what I call Phase 1 of our Mac rollout to students and teachers.  Rolling out nearly 1300 student Mac laptops in grades 7-10 and 400+ staff laptops pk-12 has been exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.  picforblogWe have been preparing for this rollout for three years… actually probably longer but the preparations really took on some structure three years ago when we moved to a tech integration model.  Everything became a reality when we brought the computer companies in to present to the school and our community.

The biggest fear any school should have about 1:1 laptop programs is this:  What if that shiny new computer purchased for the students stays shiny and new… is never taken out of the box…. is not used in the classrooms… does not end up being the tool that transforms learning?  I think if we left it up to the majority of students, they would use computers in every class all of the time.  I think if we left it up to many of the teachers, it could go either way.  Some teachers are tech-savy and embrace learning through and with technology while others are down-right fearful.

For the students who need direction on how to use technology, for the teacher who loves technology and wants to learn more, for the teacher who is intimidated and overwhelmed by the prospect of using computers in the classroom, the school MUST focus on a solid professional development experience for their staff before, during, and after the initial rollout.

Professional development before the rollout was day in and day out all last school year because we moved to a technology integration model instead of pullout tech classes.  In my division we had access to macbook laptop carts and I defined my job around integrating technology into the classrooms.  I would always team teach with classroom teachers.  Sometimes teachers came to me with ideas around integrating technology but most of the time I went to them with integration ideas.  While our technology program has grown in leaps in bounds using this approach, I still did not get to work with EVERY teacher.  If teachers don’t want to use technology and they are not mandated to do so, they get very good at hiding from the likes of your friendly tech integrationist.

mac1At the beginning of this school year, the school (upper admin) mandated each and every teacher in a 1:1 grade level participate in a two day technology retreat we called Out in Shanghai Days.  We rolled out Macs one grade level at a time, starting with 10th grade.  Teachers of 10th graders participated in the retreat on the Thursday and Friday right before the students received their laptop which ended up creating a tremendous amount of momentum and positive energy around the rollout for students.

mac2Our Out in Shanghai Days were centered around support, support, support.  At each OSD event (we had four of them because the rollout spanned four grade levels) every k-12 technology integrationist and secondary librarian was there to assist the 60+ teachers in attendance.  We took the teachers off-site for the two day event to a local hotel so that they could focus on the Challenge Based Learning task in front of them.  When the teachers placed themselves in groups, a technology specialist joined their group offering support.  Every teacher walked away from the two day training/retreat/event feeling not only more comfortable with the technology but also excited to have their students receive their machines the following week.

Momentum was the key to Phase 1 of our 1:1 rollout.  We created fanfare with the teachers and fanfare with the students because attitude is everything when it comes to learning.  Of course the focus is always the potential of the tool in the student learning process, but the blitz, the fanfare, the going out of your way to make each and every teacher feel valued and appreciated can go a long, long way.  It’s helps to create the momentum that you need.  Think of the possibilities…

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3 Comments to “1:1 Starting off with Momentum”

  1. […] modifying the way they teach and following many of the recommendations they received during their Out in Shanghai days training. And as Jason Ohler found in his most recent research, the student engagement in educational […]

  2. […] the Shanghai American School. This is excellent overview of the initial roll-out in August 2009  1 to 1 starting off with […]