Thursday, September 6, 2012

1:1 Devices? NO thanks!

I used to have this desire as a classroom teacher. This deep desire of what the 'perfect' classroom looked like. You know it well: the huge room, the perfect lighting, the lofty ceilings and underfloor heating, the modern furniture, the grand use of spaces, the outdoor garden, the bi-fold doors that take you into a huge shared space and so on. Oh! And don't forget, that tip-tap-typing in every space, is a smiling student on their own device.

Ah-yes...the much desired 'one-to-one' devices ideal.

So why am I shouting NOOOOOOO! from the rooftops now?

Ok, let's back-pedal a bit...what is it that we are trying to achieve in our classrooms?
Collaboration. Connectedness. Communication.

Give my students a device to work on with a buddy, and there is talk, banter, negotiation, compromise, action, laughter, more talk, more negotiating, agreement, disagreement, and much, much more. This is when kids work TOGETHER to achieve a goal or to create something.

But, give my students their OWN device each and it is a quiet room, with more limited learning opportunities as children simply tip-tap-type their way through what they can already do and remain firmly possessive of their work. Self managing? Maybe. Participating and contributing? Hmmm. Thinking? Not as much. Relating to others? I don't think so...

SO if the purpose for 1:1 devices is to achieve possessiveness, exclusivity and individuality, then that box can be ticked. But if one main purpose for 21st century learning and 21st century learners is to collaborate, then I would scream from the rafters that we need to be sharing, sharing, sharing. And that includes the devices and tools. The REAL learning happens when there are 2 heads together or more. The powerful problem-solving seems to occur more often when kids are bashing ideas around with one another, bouncing their options around, chatting about the 'how' rather than fretting about the product.

It would seem to me that the optimum amount of devices would be an amount that enables children to work together comfortably. I have 9 laptops and 2 desktops in my class as well as 3 children who have iPads (tech-assisted learners). On any given day there are like to be 1-2 more iPads and several iPods, which tend to get used mostly in maths or for photography purposes for the blog. Therefore, with a class of 26 I often have 1:2, which is good, but I am pretty happy when it's 1:3, because they all still have access to contribute and yet they still have to work together closely to achieve their learning.

If the purpose for having the devices is to support learning, nurture thinking, grow problem-solvers, develop independence while supporting teamwork, then I believe it is a slippery slope to provide primary school children with 1:1 devices, and something that will end up perilously close to exclusivity and insular learning at its worst. Keep the devices shared and the outcome is going to be a far greater chance of...

Collaboration. Connectedness. Communication.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff, Kimberley!
    Far, far too much focus on hardware in schools, nowhere enough on what teachers and children actually DO on it. There's an implicit assumption that if you throw a "device" at it, learning will happen. Hello? Not sure I'd like to have to share my device, I have to confess, and I collaborate all the time. But clearly 1:1 is not the holy grail of elearning.