It is hard to keep pace let alone surge ahead in the world of technologies. At One-to-One Institute we focus on serving and supporting those seeking to and implementing one to one programs while guiding their foundation development for what’s around the corner. Arguably, a school/district/state/country can well plan and organize while the next best tool and strategy is about to be launched. We’ve all witnessed the revolving doors of tech devices….more lean, nimble, less expensive, cloud and/or device-based, consumption vs creation tools, etc. How can we be current, prognosticate and implement simultaneously??
What to do when you are an organization with limited funds wanting to invest the best way to drive student outcomes? A refresh cycle can’t be every year. Students outpace adults and the education system at the speed of light where new tools and techniques are concerned. What we can do is harness the best practices, solutions and thinking that are transferable to a wide variety of scenarios in our schools.
The practices, cultural capital and inter and outer infrastructures are different in the various settings. Using data to determine what works in garnering student achievement through the power of technologies needs to be memorialized, shared and become a work in progress in each setting. Communities of practice are good avenues for this strategy. Critical questions can drive the definition of best practices. Following are examples:
- What student goals have been realized through the use of what technology tools, social media, online collaboration, digital resources?
- Are universal skills (aka 21st century skills) being developed through the uses of technologies and other cyber opportunities?
- If so, which ones and why?
- How can these be enhanced? Expanded?
- What’s the relationship/focus with Common Core and other State Standards?
- What strategies (tools, techniques, apps, etc.) provide students’ feedback that allows their continued development, productivity and personalization of learning?
- What of the same allowed teachers to development efficiencies and productivity not before realized?
- How are communication goals being reached through technologies and related systems alterations?
The culture of the setting has major impact on all aspects of teaching, learning, techniques and tools. Some are quick to adopt and mentor others to move quickly along the adoption continuum. Others develop critical nuclei of experts and grow the sub-system from the inside out. In any case, students are the hub and must be the barometer for determining practice. Within any setting, defining the cultural mores and how they impact student progress must be identified. Once noted, strategies for growth within that ecosystem need to be outlined, again memorialized, shared and become a work in progress for the community of practice.
The infra, inter and outer structures are part of the practices, too, that need to be understood and addressed. This includes human capital, network, bandwidth, professional learning, community and stakeholder support, awareness and involvement. Some sample questions for the community of practice follow.
- Who is leading?
- Support staff?
- What infrastructure is needed to ensure that (number here) of our stakeholders (students, teachers, administrators, etc.) have consistent, uninterrupted access to the internet?
- Ongoing monitoring and assessment?
- Anticipatory planning?
- Monitoring for future needs?
- What technical support is needed to support and troubleshoot?
- Classroom level?
- Student level?
- Home/school connect?
- What is the ongoing, consistent professional development plan for all stakeholders?
- What is the redundancy plan for staff who leave-instructionally, administratively, technically?
- Gaps must be avoided to ensure consistency of progress and growth.
In systems where the adults and students are full time learners – growing with present day implementations with an eye on planning for the future-they are building capacities for transferring skills to the ever-changing world of information technologies. It is also the actual behaviors, communications, sharings and debriefings within the communities of practice that allow for making the difference.