Top 10 Comments from District Leaders who Implemented 1:1 from a Top 10 List

In honor of David Letterman’s retirement I thought it would be fun to create a top 10 list of my own. Top 10 lists have been around for a long time. I remember being fascinated by the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list when I was a kid. In my work with education technology it seems like these lists are everywhere. Here are a just a few I stumbled on over the past few days.

  • Five Steps for Implementing a Successful 1:1 Environment
  • Top 10 Apps in an Established 1:1 iPad School
  • Top Ten Ways to Lead a Transformational 1:1 Implementation
  • Top 10 Things NOT to do in a 1:1 iPad Initiative

The more I see 1:1 implementation lists, the more I wonder if they actually do more harm than good. I know most of them state things like “take your time; vision and leadership is important; make sure your infrastructure is robust; teacher buy-in is critical;” etc. These points are all true, but are far too superficial to be of any real value in implementing.  Furthermore, if a district is going to spend millions of dollars on technology and hasn’t done the very cursory investigation it would take to learn these basic points, then shame on them. I can guarantee a top 10 list is not going to help.

For a 1:1 implementation to be successful and sustainable over the long term the approach to needs to be far more comprehensive and systemic. OTO identifies 7 systems within a school district that need to be addressed separately and together at the same time.

  1. Leadership
  2. Finance
  3. Infrastructure
  4. Curriculum and Instruction
  5. Professional Development
  6. Assessment and Evaluation
  7. Communications

I know what you’re thinking…another list. In reality, however, it isn’t a list, but rather an organizing principal that is flexible, dynamic and highly interconnected. It is sort of like each of our categories is a node in a nature, within a complex fractal design, with hundreds of sub nodes and fractals working together and across all of the categories. Guiding this type of transformational work is complicated. The human systems that make up school districts are complicated. It is not something that can be reduced to a top 10 list, and these lists almost seem to disrespect the real challenges district leaders will face while transforming learning. Maybe if we put everyone’s list together we could get close to the 1,500+ items we thought were important in our Project RED work.

So as a tribute to David Letterman’s retirement, I say we relegate top 10 lists to the world of superficial entertainment in which they belong, and focus our work on the in-depth study and improvement of education transformation. I will even begin the tribute with my feeble attempt at a top 10 list that is purely meant for entertainment purposes. This is my first attempt at humor, so please be kind in your responses, and I welcome your humorous additions.

Top 10 comments from district leaders who implemented 1:1 from a top 10 list

10. Top 10? Don’t we have to just give our kids the devices?
9.   If I wanted to be this superficial I would have married a Kardashian.
8.   What do you mean it is going to take 3 -5 years; there are only 10 things to do.
7.   Infrastructure? What infrastructure?
6.   The Internet is free, right?
5.   This will be a nice addition to the 47 other district initiatives we have.
4.   I thought learning from a pilot meant having a drink with him at the airport.
3.   Those Project RED guys must be crazy with their top 1,500 list. Do they really expect anyone to read that?
2.   Letterman has been using top 10 lists for 33 years; this must be the way to go.
1.   Now that I have implemented the top 10 list it’s so nice of the FBI to come and take away all of these boxes of records for us.

Michael Gielniak, Ph.D.

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