Why I don’t support 1:1 tech programs

12/24/2012 12:00:00 AM
I recently shared why Anthony Salcito said he didn’t support 1:1 tech. Some people didn’t read past the headline and responded with reactions like this:
Those who read before they reacted were encouraged that Mr. Salcito was saying what many of us have been thinking. Students, not devices, should lead our 1:1 purchasing decisions.  The unfortunate reality is that in MANY cases purchasing decisions are NOT made by the innovative educators who know tech purchases should be driven by learning goals, not the latest gadget the IT department or an administrator removed from the classroom.

I've experienced first hand when devices, not students, were the driver of purchasing decisions in my own work. I oversaw the PD implementation of a 1:1 program where every classroom got a Smartboard and every teacher and student got a laptop. One size fits all across the board. As a result I encountered some pissed off teachers who didn’t like this thrown on them without any conversation or consultation.

I see this time and time again when the very people getting the technology have no say in the purchasing decision.

When I ran grants in my previous job, I made sure to change that. Equipment was given to teachers who wrote proposals that included learning goals, then they were given a budget and the ability to select the equipment that best helped them meet those goals. We also asked them to have their students partner with them to write the proposals. You can see their work here.

I know I'm not alone. Last year a fantastic principal in my PLN was in a district that came upon some hardware money. This principal knows her stuff and knew what technology her teachers and students wanted.  It didn’t matter. Despite the fact that she wanted more tech for students, the district IT guy was hell bent on Smartboards for every class. It didn’t matter that she did not feel this was educationally sound for her students. It didn’t matter that she wanted to let student learning drive her tech purchasing decisions. It didn’t matter that she provided research to support her decision. The IT guy was in charge of purchasing and, like it or not, tens of thousands of dollars went toward "devices" she and her staff didn’t want. The, disconnected-from-the-classroom, Superintendent made a decision based on a device purchase that the IT guy was fond of rather than a decision driven by what the instructional leader thought was best for students and staff.

I love that Anthony trusts and values the intelligence of innovative educators. I appreciated that during my stay at the Global Forum, he didn’t talk about the technology or promote products. He and the teachers there spoke about best ways to learn and the tool and brand (just like a pen and paper would be) are in the background. The way they use resources and the resources they use varies, but these amazing educators, like Pauline Roberts and Courtney Woods, were allowing students to drive learning in ways that made the world a better place.

Thank you to Greg Dhuyvetter for pointing out the importance of this part of the conversation on his Work with Hope blog.  

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

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