1:1 Mobile Device Classrooms: Are They Effective? A Teacher Knows The Answers! (PART 1)

In the past, your RE@L Bloggers have questioned the wisdom of our schools buying expensive technologies before they know exactly what they are going to do with it. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in the last couple of years on school district 1:1 mobile devices, usually iPads, without a game plan on how to use it, or the training time for teachers who are asked to teach with it.

One of our local papers, The St. Paul Pioneer Press, covered this issue back in 2014 when they learned that over $15 million dollars were being spent on iPads for each student.

"What Schools Must Learn from LA's iPad Debacle," Wired Magazine, May2015The greater concern expressed was that no comprehensive plan was in place to tie it to existing curriculum or train the teachers who would be using it.  You can read the rest of the Pioneer Press story by clicking HERE. For more on these issues, Wired Magazine did an in-depth investigation in May, 2015. Just click on the graphic to the right read their story. 

We have yet to see a progress report from the St. Paul Public Schools on this issue, nor from other large districts with similar 1:1 plans.  RE@L has been a strong advocate for the use of new EdTech tools in classrooms, especially when these tools use include appropriate software, and teachers are trained to use it effectively.

Kristine Weyandt, 5th Grade Teacher, Diamond Path Elementary School, Apple Valley MN

Kristine Wyandt

So, we have asked a nearby suburban teacher about her thoughts on these 1:1 iPad programs in her school, Please greet our Guest Blogger today, Ms. Kristine Wyandt, 5th grade teacher from Diamond Path Elementary School in Apple Valley, MN. She makes very wise use of technology in her classroom. Just check out her school website.

Here’s Part 1 of what Ms. Wyandt had to say to our questions. It is our hope that other districts and schools and teachers will find this information helpful in reaching their own decisions. Part 2 will be presented in our next RE@L Blog.

images PART 1:  Ms. Wyandt, by way of background, tell us briefly why you chose teaching as a career, and why you were selected to participate in your school’s 1:1 iPad Program. List any professional development experiences that may have helped you.

 I have always enjoyed learning and working with others so the perfect career is one in education. Over the past fifteen years I’ve had the opportunity to teach with some amazing educators and have had several leadership opportunities in the district.

When our district starting offering 1:1 Beta programs I was working as a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) as a Peer Leader working with licensed staff. Through that experience I had the opportunity to observe Beta teachers in action with students in their classroom. During that time, I witnessed a level of engagement that I hadn’t seen before. Students were totally engaged with the technology and used it to enhance their learning.

When I decided to return to the classroom; I knew that I had to apply to be a Beta teacher for many reasons. First and foremost, I am a self-proclaimed technology geek myself so the thought of my students having iPads was exciting. Secondly, I knew the pros and cons that came with being a Beta teacher having worked as a coach with a few Beta teachers in the district and I knew it would be a good choice. Finally, I knew the district’s vision and -that the move to 1:1 was inevitable so I wanted to get on board and start the training right away.

RE@L:  Describe briefly any faculty training programs you participated in to make effective use of the iPads. Include any recommendations you would now have to improve that training.Unknown

 Once I was selected as a Beta teacher, the district provided ample training to prepare me for the school year. We met as a group several times the spring and summer before the school year started. Additionally, I attended several workshops that allowed me to try new Apps that my students may like to use in the classroom. The most training came with using Google Classroom and staff development on using the SAMR model. (Editors Note: The SAMR Model offers a method of seeing how computers and mobile devices might impact teaching and learning.) For more information on SAMR, Click this LINK

I would like to continue my training in lessons around “Digital Citizenship,” as well as learning how to share resources with other Beta teachers. When we meet, we have little time for the “now what” part of the training so that is an area I would like to see more time applied. It’s hard for educators to find the time to meet let alone go further into the “now what” but I think it’s really important. I have joined a small group of teachers in meetings “off campus” to extend our learning but it’s hard to find the time because we all have busy families.

PART 1 CONCLUDES HERE.

STAY TUNED FOR THE COMPLETION OF PART 2 IN OUR NEXT RE@L BLOG, COMING SOON!

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Please email your comments or questions to:  comments@realexperiencesatlife.com

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.