As we finish our first month of school, and our first month of our 1:1 roll out here at Harvard-Westlake Upper School, a few items come to mind by way of observations. First, an overview of how we have progressed to this point: HW has two campuses, about six miles apart. The Middle School campus started going 1:1 three years years ago, first with just the seventh grade. The next year, all three grades at the Middle School were 1:1, and now this year all grades at both Middle and Upper School are officially 1:1. While the Middle School process took two years, we’ve dived in with all three grades at once. That is, all teachers on the Upper School campus are new to the 1:1 experience, as are all juniors and seniors; the sophomores have had one year of 1:1 last year at the Middle School as 9th graders.
Our version of 1:1 means that all students are required to have a laptop –any brand or model– that has a designated set of functionality. All students are given MS Office to download onto their laptop so there is no problem ‘translating’ between our largely PC faculty and campus and our primarily MAC student body. All students are to provide their own laptops, and students on financial aid are given help if needed.
Support has been supplied for this move over the past 5 years by much study and research on the part of the school administration and our Education Technology committee in particular. As we have student representation on the Ed Tech committee we are greatly helped by the student Voice of Experience. Faculty are supported by way of the TILT team (Teaching Innovation Learning Team), with members from every department designated as tech mentors. We have learned much from the experience of our colleagues “over the hill” (the Middle School campus is on the other side of the Hollywood Hills from us) and we’ve taken the advice of the Middle School students on Ed Tech as well.
As we settle into our school year I find that our move to 1:1 doesn’t bring with it a massive shift in either pedagogy or practice. The Upper School, being more connected with external factors such as AP courses, is generally a more conservative place than the Middle School is, pedagogically speaking. We have had Canvas on board for five years now as our learning management system, and teachers are pretty comfortable with that. Our goal has been to centralize all aspects of a student’s school experience, and this has been progressing well.
View From the Library
1. Our 15 circulating laptops are less in demand. Last year – when we began encouraging students to bring their own laptops to school – we might have had 5-10 laptop circulations a day, up to 20 on a busy day. This year we are down to 4 per day on average.
2. As circulation of laptops decreases, circulation of laptop CHARGERS increases, along with circulation of phone chargers. We’ve had to add to our circulating collection of chargers. We also keep a range of chargers at the circ desk charging station; these don’t circulate.
3. Our patron stations are as much in demand as ever (see above photo). Students use them for printing up completed assignments or for quick access to assignments and other class information.
4. Not all students have their laptops yet. One student told me she only needs a laptop for Chinese; none of her other teachers expect to require a laptop as of now. This student is checking out a library laptop to use for her Chinese class. She finds that less inconvenient than to purchase and carry a laptop every day to class. A few other students I’ve spoken with are still working out ways and means of getting their laptops. One student is unable to afford the purchase at this time, but is not on financial aid and so has no immediate help from that direction. I suggested she check with her dean to see what possibilities there might be for those in her situation.
5. Our library laptops are the initial resource for students with minor laptop problems. We are able to check laptops out for up to a week while students are having their own laptop assessed, or if there is some quick fix that is in the works. If students need a laptop for longer than a week, then they are referred to our IT department which is set up for managing long-term computer loans.
6. Students like a choice in reading materials, and sometimes prefer print texts over digital. As far as English classes go, students have the option of listening to audiobooks (via circulating iPod) or reading digital texts from the library (via Follett Shelf) but their teachers still require print copies for students to highlight and mark up with notes. Yes, notes are possible with some digital texts but the technology doesn’t entirely replicate the print experience.
7. The Paperless Office of futures past is nowhere in sight. While many teachers aren’t printing their assignments or reading packets as much as before, that printing job has just been transferred to students, who seem to prefer to print such items out themselves and work on paper. A casual check with our clerical supplies office tells me that in fact, teachers aren’t printing any less than they did before, so they must be printing more in other directions if they are printing less of student assignments and readings. Judging from the detritus left at the library printing stations, there is still waste generated as students print jobs wirelessly. The need to pick their jobs up in a timely manner and to have patience as printer issues are resolved are not new.
This advance in technology is being rolled out in response, in some sense, to the eternal question of ‘the chicken or the egg’. You can’t become completely comfortable with all the tools and possibilities of a tech-saturated space until your space is completely 1:1. Then again, it’s very hard to go 1:1 until your students and (more especially) your teachers are completely comfortable with all the tools and possibilities of a tech-saturated space. Our experience has been a largely positive one, and as students and teachers become more aware of the possibilities a 1:1 environment allows, I foresee an increasingly rich and varied use of these tech tools as they become another distinct part of the school and library toolbox.
I realize this is a very preliminary view of one school’s experience. As school has just started, I am in no position to report on the use of laptops in the classroom. This report is just a snapshot of what we’re seeing in the library. I plan to revisit this subject near the end of the semester to take a look at where we are by then. Watch this space!
At our last Ed Tech meeting we collected up some reasons that HW has moved to go 1:1 which I thought might be useful to include (see below). These include responses from students on Ed Tech and reflect their experiences in some of their classes.
- Curricular Classes
- Preparing students for the future
- Resource access
- Centralized place for work, sharing work in the moment
- Metacognition – portfolios allow students to self-assess progress and the effectiveness of their learning strategies
- Publishing work in the public sphere through blogs, webpages, etc.
- Continuing to move to a more technological world
- Allowing teachers to do more than they ever have before
- Instant Grading
- Individualized study – students can progress at their own pace
- Deeper learning/“just in time” learning, student’s interest is piqued and they can pursue more info
- Allows for more exploration and interactivity with content
- Instant feedback on quizzes and reports
- Students can immediately see what they did wrong
- File sharing
- Better communication during the writing process
- Immediate analysis of data so it can be considered while it is still fresh in students minds
- Some students find it better to take notes on laptop
- Evernote – does OCR on scanned files, searchable handouts
- Collaborative notes
- Collaborative study guides
- Codification of student’s handouts, work, notes, communications with teacher, and past assignments.
- Extracurricular Classes
- Knowledge that students will have laptops
- Robotics example
- Debate example