Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lessons Learned in 1:1: Stay on Mission

So students now have devices in their hands... now what?  

The temptation to begin random acts of technology looms.  Students and their families have spent time and money discerning the best device - we want them to use them.   But is a classroom full of students staring at computer screens really what we want?  No...24/7 constant computing was never part of the learning objective and we must push against the temptation to let the machine be teacher.  

In the day to day living, I must admit our learners (those over and under 18) do drift off into Temple Run, Facebook and yes, the occasional Shark versus Octopus video.  I have conversations about potential cost savings of open source and online content.  I still have conversations about "integrating technology" based on an online activity someone saw at a conference and thought it looked cool.  And in all cases (yes, even after the shark vs octopus video) I asked...

"What is your learning objective?"  

It's become a bit trite in my world.  So much so, my husband posted this blog post, "Who Needs Learning Objectives?" by Charles Jennings for The Training Zone, on my Facebook page.  

Jennings, who is not a fan of learning objectives, writes: 
"Remember, learning objectives may be useful to help you create a logical design, but that’s all they’re useful for."

Luckily for us, the learning objectives of access, evaluate and use were used to create logical design.   But we also had another framework to give our 1:1 initiative purpose: the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm.  

Insert short interlude on the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm... you know... because you all are curious now that #Jesuit is like a major news story....

In brief, the IPP guides the learner much as the retreatant is guided through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.  

By meeting the learner in their contextual environment, creating experiences with knowledge and offering time for reflection... Jesuit educators guide students through the learning process...  With the end goal of developing young people who are intellectually competent, open to growth, spiritual, loving and committed to social justice (affectionately known as The Graduate at Graduation).  

End Interlude and cue...

What are the implications for other 1:1 programs?  

Don't forget your objectives!  Why was 1:1 computing considered and implemented in your learning environment?   

Part of the lesson we've learned is staying in conversation with parents and students.  Distractions will happen.  Yes, access the Angry Birds was fun for the 10 minutes... but under closer evaluation/reflection... was that the best course of action?  Engaging the conversation can be one of the most powerful reflective practices our students will carry forward into their lives.  Learning how to balance the productive power with distraction capabilities is a crucial skill for academic and life success down the road.  Stay on mission... for us, that's developing the whole person.  Even the part going for the high score.

Part of the lesson learned we've learned is staying in conversation with faculty.  The temptations will be strong... online tutorials, virtual field trips, blogging... all which can be valid learning experiences if they are a part of the larger objective.  Otherwise, they can be distractions under the guise of learning.  Engaging online tutorials outside of context may keep students quiet for 20 minutes, but retention of content will be minimum. Virtual field trip experiences without clear (and actually articulated) outcomes are just as much a distraction as a round of Angry Birds... just ask any middle schooler who has recently been on such a journey.  Blogging can mirror the worksheet unless framed in creation and reflection.  Stay on mission...for us, that's ongoing dialogue/PD with faculty (most often in our Teacher Resource Center... over coffee...).

The shiny pretty is by its very nature a distraction. Fight the temptation of random acts of technology.  Stay on mission.  And enjoy those National Geographic videos...

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