Posts Tagged Personal Digital Devices

Personal Digital Devices and Learning

My school has gone down the 1 to 1 device route.  Year 5 and 8 this year have had devices introduced into their learning environments and then progressively over the next couple of years personal digital devices (PDDs) are being introduced into the other learning environments.

This implementation is different from most other schools I know of, for two reasons. (I would be interested to discover other schools that are similar.) Firstly it was the pedagogy being employed by the school that triggered the need and demand for better access to digital information and processing. The school is seriously investing in pedagogical developing, changing learning so that it is personalised, collaborative, constructivist and deep thinking in nature. It has not resulted from a government mandated and funded program or an elitist laptop program that has placed devices into classrooms that don’t get used because teaches have not changed how they teach. (A generalization I know, but I do also know it’s a reality in many schools)

Secondly notice I have been using the term device not laptop. The school has taken the decision to use a university model of device tooling.  That is the students provide their own device, and can choose to bring whatever device they want.  Parents were given some advice as to what was needed such as Wi-Fi ability, and basic software / app suggestions (word processor, spread sheet, presentation software). Thus the array of devices is impressive, 17′ laptops, 10’netbooks, Windows, Mac, and iPads. Three different operating systems and endless variations in specifications and software.

The first couple of weeks were manic mostly because of Wi-Fi issues, with many devices that could not connect. This has mostly been sorted and as part of the year 8 integrated unit (Quest) teaching team I’m able to walk around our open space learning area (SCIL) and observe 90-140 students working productively, independently or collaboratively, on tasks.  In this environment teachers act more often as mentors and guides getting students to think more deeply about concepts and skills rather than being the providers of knowledge. Sounds great and it is. I often have to stop and reflect how different it is to what I have done in the past.

I was walking past a group of teachers the other day and one made the observation that it was actually very difficult to find students doing the wrong thing.  They meant this in a positive way. Students are so engaged that they are not wasting time and energy off task.  It immediately struck me that he was right. 95% of the students are intrinsically motivated and engage with the learning tasks.  But on further reflection and on examination of work being produce there are some students that look busy, look engaged but are not producing much in a lesson.  How do we ‘catch’ these students, what gives them away? The answer is age-old, active teachers who take the time to get to know their students individually.  You engage them, by personalizing and differentiating tasks. Knowing your students also informs your decisions of when to give direct instruction and when to let them uncover and discover for themselves. Teaching continues to be an art form, not a science, it needs to be relational and active.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: