One of the best investments I’ve made at work was to equip all 15 tech facilitators with modern, durable, robust and flexible laptops. Although I wouldn’t recommend anyone put their laptops through durability tests like these, I have confidence in knowing that a vendor will stress and stand behind the durability of its product—especially when deployed in K-12 contexts over time.
Some specs (2 GB RAM, for example) for these laptops are ahead of the curve. To me, that is solving future problems. I am confident that the laptops will last and perform at optimum levels for 3-4 years. Then, according to Moore’s Law and past fact/future fact, the laptops will gradually fade in functionality over 2-3 years. So, we are looking at a 5-7 year investment in which we have a good degree of confidence.
Then the discussion becomes, so what will you do with them that will transform teaching and learning? As loyal readers of Haulin’ ‘Net know, we are well on our way through a long-term “future ready” training initiative with our laptop learners.
We have worked with Firefox and its add-ons, RSS, Google Homepage, Google Reader, Google Docs, Movie Maker, Photo Story, and Blogs. Today we studied podcasting using Audacity. Our facilitator was Patrick Keough, Distance Learning Coordinator and iTunes University guru for Carteret Community College.
Patrick has been an on-line instructor for ten years! He shared pedagogy as well as technology. And he has captured the text and photos on his blog, Peregrinations:
We as educators have all these new powerful and sophisticated tools to communicate to our students via the web and in the traditional classroom environment. It is our job as educators to harness (and channel) this technology in order to guide our students (no matter what age group) to the resources they need to succeed in this ever changing world we live in. The Leave it to Beaver days are over (DARN) and as much as I hate to say good bye to those days I am absolutely jazzed about the potential for learning and teaching in the cyber frontier.
Technologies like laptops and iPods are important to me because they are transformational. Just like Virtual Schools and Senior Projects, transformational technologies give us leverage in affecting school culture.
We will be hard-pressed to reform the monolithic institution of public school in one fell swoop; but—with sound investments and relevant conversations—we can continue to transform it . . . a bit at a time.