Musings from the Middle Kingdom
“Schools that provide a laptop to each student as part of a comprehensive program are likely to see measurable benefits.” (Zheng, 2016)
A meta analysis of 15 years worth of 1:1 research studies in 2016 by Professor Zheng of Michigan State University and Professor Warschauer of the University of California found that 1:1 laptop initiatives boost study scores. This meta analysis summarises the overall outcome of both positive and negative 1:1 studies over the past 15 years. The researchers found that 1:1 program, “on average, had a statistically significant positive impact on student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science”.
In addition to improved scores on standardised tests, the benefits of successful laptop programs include an improved writing process. “Students received more feedback on their writing, edited and revised their papers more often, drew on a wider range of resources to write and published or shared their work with others more often,”http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2016/does-learning-improve-when-every-student-gets-a-laptop/
The IB organisation discusses and supports the pedagogy of using technology “which should be accessible to all learners” and how it prepares students for IB in quite depth and concludes that it is the mindsets of the school community that make the impact of technology transformative and to enable this change 1:1 device access is the way to go.
Case studies of 1:1 success stories in International schools - These highlight how a multitude of schools around the world have seen a positive impact of 1:1 on learning.
Bishops Diocesan College shares that laptops have created extra motivation in boys. They were willing to put in far longer hours getting something right than had ever been the case before. It was not surprising to find children using their devices to actually catch up on work whilst waiting to be picked up and even, surprisingly, deleting games from their devices to make space for school work.
The CCL project study by the University of Wolverhampton and others, based on observation of 1:1 implementation in 9 countries across Europe recommends that
"When I learnt with a book – the book is full of facts. I wrote what was written in the book and answered according to what the teacher said. Now that I have my laptop I discover all kinds of reports and scientific investigations – which might be different from what is written in the book. It is much more interesting and more up-to-date!"
Learning with Personal Laptops in School: Benefits & Gains, Obstacles & Constraints suggests that having one-to-one computers can significantly help increase student technology proficiency, because of the increased opportunities of acquiring technology knowledge and skills while using the laptops for various tasks involving learning, communication, expression, and exploration. Their findings suggest that one-to-one computers and related technologies have enriched students’ learning experiences, expanded their horizons, and opened up more opportunities and possibilities.
Technology is an enabler to equip the students to think smarter and become more creative."
"The Malaysian ministry of education introduced a smart school policy as part of a range of policies aimed at developing a more knowledge–based economy. While smart schools embraced digital technology, the more fundamental change related to the curriculum. Teaching became less driven by textbooks; learning became more structured around personal inquiry; and assessment occurred more frequently but was managed by learners themselves. The success of the initiative has depended on establishing a communications network within and between schools. emphasis has been placed on adopting learning management systems, access to internet sources, and extensive use of personal devices. The initiative has successfully taken the school system to a state of digital maturity. it illustrates how technology can be a catalyst for curricular innovation: achieving radical change in teaching and learning."
(Ghavifekr, s., hussin, s. and ghani, m.f.a. (2011) The process of malaysian smart school policy cycle: a qualitative analysis. ‘Journal of research and reactions in education.’ 5(2), 83-104)
It puts the means for "coming to know" in the palm of each child's hand, making classrooms student-centric instead of teacher-centric. Education will them move from "I tell" to "We find." - Cathleen Norris and Elliot Soloway From Banning to BYOD
Students learn how to use their device for learning. As students discover how to learn with their devices, they are able to extend their learning beyond the school day and often choose to continue participating in online discussions and collaborative activities for academic purposes" - Lisa Nielson in The Journal 7 Myths about BYOD Debunked
A study of 595 learners who used a course management system as part of a blended learning approach found that the system encouraged deeper learning and enhanced understanding by promoting constructive dialogue between learners and enabling interactive learning. Blended learning is the model we are focussing in our tech based pedagogy where technology and face to face instruction are used in tandem to get the best academic results.. (Kember et al. 2010)
Internal data analysis
Internal data analysis is also crucial as it establishes impact of change in your context. Analysis of our IB results sets over the last 10 years suggest that before BYOD our average point score per student per subject was 5.01 and post BYOD it has been constantly improving to 5.6 per student per subject denoting an improvement of more than half a grade level. Use of 1:1 at IB has definitely contributed to this and changed the way we teach and the way students learn. From use of Kognity and digital textbooks to becoming organised through the use of Managebac for CAS and Extended Essay to increased teacher student communication and peer to peer collaboration, we are using technology to teach and learn in ways that we would not have imagined a few short years ago. Even if one was to argue that teaching might have improved this fact is certain that technology has not had a negative impact.
Of course there are issues and concerns highlighted in research as well.
One concern from parents and students is that the added weight of the laptops is too heavy in their school bags (Grimes and Warschauer, 2008) but this could be addressed, as the authors suggest, through the use of a hybrids, netbooks or tablet which are lighter than traditional laptops.
Parents are generally concerned that the school might better use money in other areas like books, worried about loss of writing skills and expressed concern about the amount of time spent on the laptops (Lei and Zhao, 2008). The mixed feelings expressed by often supportive parents according to the authors stems from the realisation that “students were going to be living in a digital era where paper and pencil might not be as important as in the past; but they still wished students would have good penmanship and appreciate the value of books.”
BYOD generally frees up school resources to be devoted to other areas and the issue about the loss of writing skills and excess screen time stems from ineffective professional development of staff. Greater use of whole school PD provision and the intensive focus on the best pedagogical techniques by curriculum leaders and leadership teams actually provides an effective system of check and balances against overuse of technology. Coupled this with profile management enabling us to limit screen hours, digital citizenship and parental workshops will help ensure that the above concerns are avoided.
Discipline - Misuse of devices is covered under school discipline policies and the same rules will continue to apply as they have with school devices. Concerns related to students creating hotspots and dongles or using Virtual Private Networks which they can also do with school devices are normally covered under the same policy. Since we are here to educate children, digital citizenship courses can help them in becoming responsible digital learners.
Security/Theft - Schools can cover theft and accidental damage under a blanket insurance policy and also using tech like RFID tags ensure devices are linked to pupils. Profiles can also be installed on devices which can also protect children when they are at home.
Esafety - Schools have strong firewalls firewall ensuring they get the same protection as school devices. In tandem with our digital citizenship curriculum this will empower students to be safe whilst using their devices.
A study of laptop users in university classrooms found that students who multitasked on a laptop during a lecture performed worse on a test than students who were not multitasking. Researchers suggested that embedding “a few rules of technology etiquette that are enforced in the classroom throughout the semester” could help (Sana, F., Weston, T., & Cepeda, N. J. (2013). Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Computers and Education, 62, 24–31.)
The most concerns regarding one-to-one programs come from teachers. Where 1:1 programs have not had great impact, there has been little planning, ineffective supervision of device use and a substitution model of teaching using technology. Many of these concerns surrounded how the laptops impacted teachers personally. Many teachers lacked self confidence and were concerned about how they would adapt lesson plans to include technology (Donovan et al., 2007). Teachers also expressed concerns over the amount of time it takes to monitor student activities on the laptops during class time (Grimes and Warschauer, 2008; Lei and Zhao, 2008). Other disadvantages include uncharged laptops impeding work completion, network connection and technological difficulties, ease of plagiarism and the time lost due to training students in the use of the laptops.
In schools where technology is not making a significant impact, researchers have identified numerous culprits, including teachers' beliefs about what constitutes effective instruction, their lack of technology expertise, erratic training and support from administrators, and govt and local policies that offer teachers neither the time nor the incentive to explore and experiment. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/06/11/why-ed-tech-is-not-transforming-how.html
Deep rooted tech PD provision and the implementation of tech integrators along with digital citizenship courses help us avoid these pitfalls.
When you consider that majority of students at nursery have used a tablet, smartphone or an equivalent computing device before they have learnt how to handle a pencil, it is a given that as these students move through school, they'll have some type of device in hand. What's more, students will want to use something that they're familiar with, that they own, and that they won't have to change once they leave school.
Summarising the pedagogical reasons for 1:1 for us.
Anytime/Anywhere learning – 1:1 makes learning a part of students’ lives. It bridges the gap between at home and in school learning. With the increase use of Firefly, teachers can set tasks which extend learning beyond the class and send reminders or syllabi. Students can discuss homework or ask for study support using the same device.
1:1 makes differentiation easier – Teachers can use media to meet different learning needs. From auto translating to creating multiple pathways along with a huge wealth of resources available online.
Embracing tools makes education interactive – From using polls to check student understanding to the use of supplemental learning resources like digital books (imagine using an interactive 3D animation of how the heart works rather than a picture) and interactive tests that monitor progress and provide immediate feedback, having a device on hand allows in class learning to be supported innovatively.
1:1 embeds digital etiquette – Increasingly people fear devices for the potential of distractions and safety but instead 1:1 allows new learning opportunities. Teachers can teach responsible technology etiquette which is an increasingly needed skill in the workplace.
Saves learning time – Makes collaboration easier and research can be done faster. More diverse sources can be used instead of a few outdated textbooks.
Teachers in full control - Technology doesn't need to be involved if a teacher is already flourishing without any device in the classroom. Our teachers are aware that technology is a tool and should only be used when necessary. We are aware of how easy technology can distract and our school protection measures will apply to any student device offering the same protection levels as in-school devices.
We are responsible to preparing out students for the modern workplace. Teaching students how to correctly use devices for learning is necessary. There is often a duality of tech use, school devices for work and home devices for mostly entertainment. Simply assuming that they will know how to effectively use technology for learning is a great fallacy.
A recent talk given by the Dean of Warwick University highlighted the importance of technology in higher education and the workplace. The time is ripe for us to move away from the ICT for teaching to the ICT for learning and the consensus is that 1:1 is indeed the right direction to move onto in the current context.
Sources used in research:
I am Sunny Thakral. If you are here on the site then you know a bit about me. If not then I am a teacher and these are my musings.