My class has been involved in a 1:1 laptop pilot for about a year now (as 4th and now 5th graders). There have been certain advantages to being the “Lone Ranger” in this endeavor. I fly “under the radar,” because this is not a grant driven project. Its something we are doing at my school site because we had the resources already and I had a certain amount of expertise and willingness to do things differently. I’ve been thrilled by what we have done so far, but can’t claim that “this is THE answer” to the education puzzle … but I strongly suspect it is at least part of the answer. Having said that however, one thing that I really miss is collaboration. No one else is doing this at my school or even in my school district (a 65,000 student school district).
I’m making some good decisions about what and how we are doing this, but how much better a job would I be doing if even one other teacher at my site were doing this along with me? I do have my online collaborators … through Twitter and blogs and Skype and the like, and that is great … but they don’t replace face-to-face, sit-down-at-the-end-of-the-day comrades that are experiencing this with you. People to bounce ideas off of and share the ups and downs with. Tech savvy isn’t as important as making the journey with you in this case. Quality, effective teaching knowledge is more important. Having others to remind you when maybe you’re doing something just for the sake of doing it when a different, perhaps tried-and-true less complicated approach may have achieved the same or better results … or at least to raise and discuss that issue. On the other hand to remind others that this approach isn’t about doing the same thing, the same lessons, but this time just use technology as a tool to do it isn’t what we’re about either … using a different approach is as important as using a different tool I believe. This is one of the reasons I argue with those that say tech and/or project based has been tried and failed … I have seen so many initiatives that are done poorly for a variety of reasons crash and burn … or are not supported well over a long enough period to draw that conclusion. Not enough tweaking or training has been the death knell for many such trials. So we’ll continue on with our pilot and do more great things and learn much along the way … but there will also be the nagging “what ifs” that will crop up in the back of my mind.