Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Empowering Students

As a follow up to "Becoming Obsolete," I'd like to pose a few ideas that would help us empower our students, especially for those who are contemplating the idea, but don't know where to start.

1. Establish a Technology Advisory Council - you can't take on this project by yourself. Devise a group of interested teachers, administrators, PTO members, and students who are willing to develop a plan, oversee its integration, and regularly assess the impact of said plan.

2. Mobile Learning Device Agreements - are you going to allow students and teachers to bring their own mobile learning devices to school? Who will be responsible for said equipment? What will happen if something breaks or is stolen? Will your techs be responsible for maintaining and repairing the equipment if something happens to it?

I'd suggest creating a "Mobile Learning Device Agreement" that would be signed by all parties who bring in their own equipment. The agreement should include, but not be limited to:
  • Appropriate use clause.
  • An understanding of the risks i.e. theft and/or damage.
  • A clause stating that the maintenance and repair of student/teacher personal equipment is the sole responsibility of said student and/or teacher.
  • Repercussions for those who fail to adhere to the building's agreement. 
I'd also suggest having the students fill out the make, model, and serial number of their device(s) on the form as well for a reference point. If something is stolen or misplaced, you have identifiable information on record. 

Both students and their parents would need to sign the agreement, which would remain on file and available if and when necessary. 

This agreement must be approved by building and district administrators and may need to be reviewed by the school board and/or district lawyer. 

3. Student Accessable WiFi - What's the point of bringing these devices into the building if they can't access the cloud? There are differing opinions in terms of content filtering and permissions. I'll leave that discussion for another day. In the meantime, go with your gut.

4. Powering Stations  - As your roll out your plan, make sure that there are locations and/or available power strips for students to plug in during the class day. At some point in the day, their batteries will start to run low and they're going to need to plug in, recharge, and continue working.

5. Re-purposing Equipment - Every school will have a number of students who do not have their own mobile learning devices. Why not establish a loaner policy? You already have a number of netbooks and/or laptops available that are not being used as much as you'd like. Why not set up a program where students can sign them out in the morning or during class and use it for a set amount of time? In classroom of 20-25 students, you may only need 5 loaner computers. You may have your tech(s) distribute devices prior to first period and collect them at the end of the day. Be creative. Do what works best for your building.

Those that have adequate equipment may also consider extended loaner programs where students would be able to loan the device out for the semester and/or school year. I know a few of you just cringed. It's okay. The students will respect the equipment. It'll come back in one piece. However, if you go this route, you'll want to establish another "loaner agreement" that will outline appropriate use, maintenance, theft, etc.

6. Professional Development Workshops - Empowering your students and allowing the integration of student-owned devices in your building is going to change how you conduct business one way or another. The learning process is going to be different. Therefore, you're going to need to prepare your teaches for change.

You may want to consider devising workshops to help teachers transition. You may want to consider the following workshops or similar programming:
  • Integration technology in the classroom.
  • Web-based Applications and Projects.
  • Project/Problem-based Collaboration.
  • Google Applications for Educators
  • Internet Safety
  • Digital Privacy, CyberEthics, and Netiquette
Here's another novel idea - include your students in the workshops! (1) They need to be involved in internet safety, digital privacy, cyberethics, and netiquette workshops (2) It's a great way to get their insight (3) they can learn alongside their teachers as active learners.


In rolling out this program, I'd suggest starting small. Set up a couple pilot classrooms - maybe one or two per grade level. Maybe start with the high school first and then introduce it to the middle school. You may or may not want to roll this out with your elementary students - I'll leave that decision up to you.

I'd also suggest putting together a student/parent survey prior to rolling out this new initiative. Find out how many students have mobile learning devices? Do they have internet capability at home? Are the parents responsive to the idea?

From your survey you might want to run a few informational session for the parents so that you can explain the plan and respond to any concerns that they have. Also be sure to explain that parents WILL NOT have to run out and purchase devices for their child and that a loaner program will be in place for those who need one during the school day.

Hey - It just might work!

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed the content and agree with your views. Thank you for sharing.

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