Managing Complex Change in Piloting 1:1

As we prepare to implement a pilot 1:1 program with iPads in my district, I keep thinking about this model which hangs prominently in my office.  Certainly the lessons learned from other districts who have gone before us indicate that this is a pretty good guide to use to steer us towards a successful 1:1 launch.  For instance, in the report, Examining Issues Critical to a 1:1 Learning Environment: Principal Leadership, it states “…schools must have the capabilities and strategies for the laptop use to be effective (Warschauer, 2006). This includes technology support, resources, and strong leadership guiding the programs.”

I decided to take a closer look at each of the elements in this chart  (credited to Mary Lippitt) and translate to the situation at hand.

Vision

Without vision, confusion is the result.

In our IT-Education Services department, we continuously share our vision that technology is not the “end” – but rather the tool that will allow teachers to transform learning for students.  We are working on a plan to use the Technology Integration Matrix  developed by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology to help them understand the vision of what transformation looks like. The matrix contains links to excellent short videos that show various levels of technology use and depth of learning across all subject areas and grade levels.

Skills

Without skills, anxiety is the result.

We are beginning to outline a plan for professional development for teachers who will be in the 1:1 pilot using the Understanding by Design model.  Thus, we are starting with the end in mind –our overall transfer goal of students using the technology at the point of need to connect with the “real world” and to allow choice in how they learn as well as in time, place, path, and/or pace in learning. (Innovative Innosight’s Blended Learning Model).  In following the UbD 2.0 Template, we are also identifying understandings, knowledge and skills that teachers will need to be successful with achieving the long-term transfer goal and vision.  We recognize that skills with using the technology are just as important to address as the vision and goals, and that we will most likely be working with teachers who are at many different levels in terms of their current skill and comfort level of using technology.  That is where the Technology Integration Matrix will come in handy – so that we can let teachers self-evaluate where they are currently in their practice, and then we can plan a tiered approach to the professional development to meet them where they are and help move them to the next level.

incentivesIncentives

Without incentives, change is more gradual.

In our situation, offering any kind of monetary incentives to teachers in the 1:1 pilot to learn new skills and pedagogy is probably not going to be possible.  We will do the best we can here, getting an iPad in their hands well in advance of deployment with students so they can begin to get comfortable with the technology. Additionally, we always make it possible for teachers to earn professional development credit towards recertification and incremental salary increases.  The thing is, we usually find that access to the technology itself for the teacher and their students is a HUGE incentive – for perhaps all except for the laggards (on the Diffusion of Innovation scale).

Resources

Without resources, frustration ensues.

We realize that resources can be everything from people (tech support) to tools, accessories, apps, best practice information, and robust iPadnetworks.  Our 1:1 plan does call for beefing up the network in the pilot schools, and we will be sharing app information via our district’s iPad User Group wiki. One of our biggest areas of concern, however, is tech support.  The district has invested in 2 additional positions at the district level, but it will be up to the individual schools to decide whether or not to add additional tech support at the building level.

Action planAction Plan

Without an action plan, you will be subject to a series of false starts – “the treadmill effect.”

The action plan is currently being written. We are linking this closely with the vision, objectives, tactics and action plan developed by the schools for learning and student achievement in general.

I’d really like to hear from anyone who has already implemented a 1:1 with iPads about what worked and what didn’t.

Using Technology to Transform Learning

TIM PD
Roger Henson, Coordinator for the Schools of Innovative Learning & Technology, leads teachers through an exercise using the Technology Integration Matrix.

Yesterday, we brought together a small group of teachers in my district who I would describe as innovative leaders in the integration of technology to transform learning.  While we are not anywhere near 1:1 in our district, we will be piloting a 1:1 program in three of our schools next year.  We hoped to gain some ideas from these early adopters on how to best prepare the staff at the schools piloting 1:1 to use technology effectively.

The day began with the group of 12 teachers describing the kinds of technology currently available to them, and ways that they use this technology with students.  As the teachers described multiple innovative uses of technology for learning, I made note of some common themes:

  • The technology enabled 24/7 learning – and students, on their own, extended their learning through the use of the device
  • The projects the teachers shared, in addition to being technology-rich, all had some kind of personal connection for the students. For example:

Globe with faucet

  • Using iBooks to create personal narratives
  • Using the technology to connect with an authentic, sometimes global audience (Skype, wikis, blogs,etc.)
  • Using technology to respond to student questions at the point of need
  • The technology allows teachers to differentiate and blend learning
  • Students are highly motivated  – “sparked!”
  • Technology is used to create and share
  • Students have some element of choice in the process of learning with the technology,  (freedom in how they researched, took notes, etc.) or the tool they use to create the final product i.e. – the less control a teacher exerted – the better!

What struck me most was that technology is used in these teachers’ classrooms to help students learn in ways that wouldn’t be possible without the technology. In other words, the technology wasn’t simply replacing an old way of doing things.

Here are some common characteristics of this group of teachers – including some that they expressed about themselves:

Tenacity: “It takes time to learn how to use the technology – but it’s worth it!”

Fearlessness:  “I’m an all or nothing kind of guy!”

Reflective:  These teachers are continuously evaluating and changing to meet the needs of the students.  For example, two of these teachers were our earliest adopters of flipped classrooms. They now have moved away from this practice, but shared that it was a very important step in getting where they are now in terms of using technology to transform learning.

Learning-Centered:  Technology is not the focal point.  These teachers use backwards design, so they start with what they want students to know and be able to do, and then design a performance assessment that allow the students to transfer the understandings – often in completing an authentic task.  Once these are determined, the learning activities are put into place.21st c stress these things more

What I am wondering now is this:  How can we help all teachers in our 1:1 pilot be successful with integrating the technology in their classroom?  If a teacher lacks the kind of tenacity and fearlessness that these teachers displayed, can they still learn and be successful in using the technology as effectively with students?

I’d love to hear from you! What kind of professional development has worked best for teachers of all abilities in 1:1 settings?

Being a Designer of Learning

Recently, teachers in our Blended Learning grant project met for the first time to learn more about what Blended Learning is, and to get an idea of the work we hope they will accomplish this school year through the program.  The grant funding provides release time to work together collaboratively to backwards-design at least one unit that will be delivered  to students using blended learning.  We designed this professional development for the teachers using blended learning: direct instruction pieces such as how to use Moodle to set up a course, and other tools to support the learning such as Google Docs, blogs, and wikis are all available via tutorials on their Moodle course.

Last year, the teachers that participated in this project seemed bogged down by all of the technology tools and many just didn’t embrace the backwards design aspect, resulting in various levels of completing the project and successful impact with students. This year, we are changing things up a bit.

This change came about as a result of attending Advance UBD training with Grant Wiggins in July.  I wrote earlier about one of our big take-ways from this –we need to think like a designer –a designer of learning. This applies not just to teachers designing learning for the classroom, but to those of us charged with designing learning for teachers. We used the Understanding by Design process to design this professional development course.  The first step in the process is to determine what it is we want students (in this case teachers) to know and be able to do.  Here is our transfer goal:

Students(Teachers) will be able to independently design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop 21st Century knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

From here, we determined our goals for understanding and acquisition goals for our teachers:

The students (teachers) will understand that an intentional shift in content delivery and instructional practices, away from the traditional schooling model, transfers the ownership of learning to their students.

Additionally:

  • What Blended Learning is and how it helps students
  • What UBD is and how it helps students
  • What 21st Century learning is and how it helps students

This gave us a much better place to begin designing our learning activities, always looking for alignment to assure we are on target to help our teachers reach these understandings.

Last year, our kick-off meeting focused on Moodle. We gave a brief presentation on what Blended Learning is – then proceeded to focus the majority of the workshop on getting each teacher onto Moodle where they could start building the online portion of their course.  We did provide a series of tutorials on the backwards-design process which they were expected to have watched prior to coming to the first work session, though we know that few did (Moodle provides pretty good stats on that)- and the result is as we should have expected – the focus was on the technology, and not on how to design learning.

This year, after deciding on our learning goals for the teachers, we knew this had to change. We decided it was critical to focus this first half-day workshop on bringing teachers to an understanding of the importance of being designers of learning, and to have a unified understanding of what blended learning means.  Rather than just telling them how we define these concepts, we started with a Socratic Seminar. We believed this kind of activity would be a way to honor the expertise in the room, let them construct their own knowledge, and to model and activity that they might use with students.  A brief but thought-provoking blog post by Anders Norberg was used for the Socratic Seminar. The 6 small groups were randomly formed, and each group had a good mix of teachers from different grades, levels, and subject areas.  The resulting discussions were rich and insightful.  It was tempting to jump in and steer their conversations, but our team recognized the importance of allowing the conversations to go where they needed to go.  Fears about technology and in many cases a lack of technology gave way naturally to discussions (“Is this what we are supposed to be talking about?”) to find answers to the guiding questions “What is Blended Learning” and “Why Blended Learning.”   At the end of the 20 minute conversations, they shared out with the whole group and had pretty much nailed the definition on their own.

Following this, we gave a  brief presentation on Blended Learning, (offering the definitions given in the Innosight report)  and then moved into an activity to help teachers understand where Blended Learning fits in the learning design. Each participant was given a strip of paper with one element of learning or teaching printed on it.  We projected the Venn Diagram you see below:

Teachers were asked if the item would be classified as something that mostly would be in a traditional classroom, blended classroom, or could be in both.

Some of the elements that they needed to place on the diagram included:

-Worksheets
-Online Quiz
-Face-to-Face collaboration
-Video Podcast
-Students playing games
-Database resource link
-Instructional Design
-Formative Assessment
-Students reading a textbook
-Teacher lecturing
-Project based learning
-Motivated, Successful Students
-Online collaboration
-Threaded discussion
-Simulation

The “aha” for our teachers was that nearly all of these elements could fall into any area of the chart. This became clear as the person with the title, “Instructional Design” and the person with the outcome, “Motivated, successful students” placed their strips of paper on the diagram.

Another “aha” moment was that as a Designer of Learning, they manipulate all of the other pieces- but to create a blended learning environment – they need to allow students to have some element of control over time, place, path, and/or pace.  .  As a Designer of Learning, they decide which elements are best delivered in a traditional manner, and which could be enhanced through technology. As a Designer of Learning, they decide what is best taught through direct instruction, and what might be self-paced.  Direct instruction –what many think of when they hear the term “teaching” – is just one of the elements. A Designer of Learning carefully plans how all of the elements will be deployed   to assure that students achieve the learning goal.