Friday, July 23, 2010

The Crux of One-to-One Programs

This literature review began with five broad questions guiding initial reading:

1 What changes happen to teachers’ pedagogy when a one-to-one laptop program is introduced in their classroom?
2 How might the changes to their pedagogy be influenced by their values, attitudes and beliefs?
3 What professional development or learning might best support their effective transition to a one-to-one laptop classroom?
4 What might be the impact of the introduction of one-to-one laptops and associated pedagogies on the engagement of learners?
5 How might relationships between teachers and students change in a one-to-one laptop classroom?

It is now necessary to reflect on these questions in the light of recent reading in the hope of sharpening the focus and working towards a solid and sustainable research proposal.
Q1. What changes happen to teachers’ pedagogy when a one-to-one laptop program is introduced in their classroom?
In considering changes that are plausible is such a situation, use has been made of what Levin (2005 p.1) refers to as “four key areas where laptops and ubiquitous access to network resources affect the learning process: communication, organization, information, and production. In the one-to-one classroom, students and teachers are offered new ways to communicate and new methods of collaboration. Students and teachers have new opportunities to share ideas and offer feedback.
Organization: Students and teachers have access to new tools they can use to organise their learning and communication.
Access to Information: Student have access to Internet resources. Teachers have access to new resources and media to support student learning. Teachers can take advantage of current information on the Internet. Teachers no longer have to act as the source of knowledge in the classroom.
Student Production: Students are afforded new ways of demonstrating their learning and mastery.
As stated in a previous blog post, Handal (2004) and Judson (2006) feel that it is not external factors, such as the introduction of one-to-one computing that changes teachers' pedagogy, but internal factors such as teachers' beliefs about the nature of teaching and learning that are the strongest determinant in the degree of change that occurs. Levin's (2005) changes may be available as a result of the presence of ubiquitous computing, but these changes may not necessarily be adopted. Those with a relatively long history in the field such as Gary Stager (2009), agree that nothing will change as a result of one-to-one programs unless power relationships change between students and teachers. Teachers who want to remain in charge at the front of the room will not be making the most of what one-to-one can deliver. Papa (2010, p.4) also states, “The mere presence of hardware and software in the classroom does not ensure meaningful learning for students”. This highlights the importance a school communities motivation for introducing one-to-one programs. If there are no clear purpose, or if the purpose is to convince a naïve community that kids having the latest digital fashion accessory makes the school appears to be “with it”, it is hard to imagine that teachers' pedagogy will change. Such programs would appear to be more successful if the aim is for students to be more engaged in their learning and to improve levels of student achievement. If the school community then explore what is needed to make this happen, such as a need to change power relationships in the classroom and introduce the use of constructivist pedagogy, the need for digital tools that support aims or how classrooms are organised (Floyd 2010), then such initiatives would appear to have more chance of success.
Q2 How might the changes to their pedagogy be influenced by their values, attitudes and beliefs? A teacher's methods are unlikely to change unless their values and attitudes to learning are challenged. This emphasises the importance of school leadership in bringing about change. A leader driving change with a clear and well communicated vision for pedagogy and technology in their school, should have more effect on classroom practise than supplying computers to every child. As Papa (2010, p.4) states, “effective technology leadership is more to do with teaching pedagogy and human relations than it is with the technology itself”.
Q3 What professional development or learning might best support their effective transition to a one-to-one laptop classroom?
This question was explored in an earlier blog post.  Any effective model for technology professional development for teachers should include that suggested by Downes et al. (2001, p.81):
  • Opportunities to reflect on their own practice.
  • Time away from the classroom to engage in reflection.
  • Support for increasing adult to child ratios in the classroom.
  • Opportunities to meet with peers during the working week for the purpose of sharing ideas and solving problems.
Q4 What might be the impact of the introduction of one-to-one laptops and associated pedagogies on the engagement of learners? This question is similar to Q1 in that, once the initial excitement of students using a computer instead of an exercise book subsides, levels of engagement would largely be dependent on the skills of the teacher rather than the presence of computers. Studies considered by Becker (2000, p. 3-5) found that student engagement with computers was greatest in classrooms where:
  • Experimentation and exploration were encouraged, rather than drill-and-practice.
  • Activities were interdisciplinary, project-based and aimed at individual  student interest and ability.
  • Teachers were more willing to give responsibility to students for determining specific learning tasks and how to accomplish them.
  • Students worked in cooperative teams, where the teacher had become a co-learner rather than the primary source of knowledge for students.
Q5 How might relationships between teachers and students change in a one-to-one laptop classroom? Again, nothing may change unless the values, attitudes and beliefs of teachers about the nature of learning changes to accommodate constructivist pedagogy and this would appear to happen very slowly if left to osmosis. It needs to be driven by school leadership and effective professional development. One-to-one then, can be seen as a useful tool that can support a change to more student-centred or constructivist pedagogy rather than a panacea for increased student engagement and improved learning outcomes.

The current exploration of the original five broad questions is giving way to a new focus on leadership, pedagogy and human relationships in school communities and how one-to-one programs intersect with these themes.

References

Toni Downes; Andrew Fluck; Pam Gibbons; Ralph Leonard; and others, (2001) Making better connections: models of teacher professional development for the integration of information and communication technology into classroom practice. Available at: http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/school_education/publications_resources/profiles/making_better_connections.htm#authors [Accessed June 16, 2010].

Floyd  A Paradigm Shift in Classroom Design | A Piece of My Mind. Available at: http://scottsfloyd.com/2010/04/19/a-paradigm-shift-in-classroom-design/ [Accessed July 21, 2010].

Handal, B,. 2004. TEACHERS’ INSTRUCTIONAL BELIEFS ABOUT INTEGRATING EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY. Available at: http://www.usq.edu.au/electpub/e-jist/docs/Vol7_No1/Commentary/Teachers_ins_beliefs.htm [Accessed May 31, 2010].

Judson, E., 2006. How teachers integrate technology and their beliefs about learning: is there a connection? - Free Online Library. Available at: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/How+teachers+integrate+technology+and+their+beliefs+about+learning:...-a0147205384 [Accessed May 31, 2010].

Levin, H., 2005. Laptop program update. Learning & Leading with Technology, 33(4), 17–20.

Papa, R., 2010. Technology Leadership for School Improvement, SAGE Publications.

Stager, G., 2009. Hard and Easy: Reflections on my ancient history in 1:1 computing : Stager-to-Go. Available at: http://stager.tv/blog/?p=560 [Accessed July 20, 2010].

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