Common Ground in the 1:1 World

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The inaugural International 1:1 Computing Conference last week in Atlanta drew participants from around the world. Alicia Banuelos, San Luis, Argentina, kicked of the event describing how she led the ‘constitutional right’ for students in San Luis to have Internet access. Her amazing true life story laid the groundwork for many tales of 1:1 challenges, successes, leaders and research. It was striking how the work has evolved and stories have changed over the course of a decade.

True, the participants have been drinking 1:1 kool-aid for a long time. Yet, each of us learned more to take away and continue to progress. Many commented on how, regardless your geography, ethnicity, political leanings or student profiles – the challenges and success navigation strategies are the same. We have a common, working vocabulary for both philosophical and tactical foundations.

First, the mere mention of 1:1 doesn’t capture the authentic education transformation that is at the heart of the work. The core work is moving from the industrialized school model to that of an information-age, personalized one. This, where students are self-motivated, self-actualized as they take ownership of their own learning and progress. The teacher’s role is pivotal – becoming one of the learners’ activation of learning and all that means in a new ecosystem that is student-centric NOT adult-centric.

As Ron Canuel, Executive Director of CEA and a co-conference organizer, aptly states, “Educators didn’t sign on to this work with a goal to remain comfortable, secure and safe as an adult into later life; they signed on to serve students, care about their achievement and ultimately make communities and the world a better place.” That’s lofty and it’s focused on learners-an important reminder.

Thomas Friedman, in his December 8th New York Times article, notes that today’s youth will face three necessary adjustments in the near future: 1) the ability to constantly grow and develop new skills; 2) to be self-motivated to know what skills are needed and how to develop them; and 3) to engage a highly imaginative landscape for developing new ideas and endeavors for personal develop and to fuel more jobs. Friedman quotes futurist, Marina Gorbis who says that the digital divide will dry up and be replaced with a ‘motivational’ divide. She predicts that those with ‘grit’, self-motivation and perseverance will access the world of technology and collaborative tools to create, grow, learn, succeed and contribute. Today’s schools must be incubators for these major educational goal shifts.

I didn’t realize, but Friedman points out, (via Andreas Schleicher PISA’s manager) that one of the reasons for other countries’ advancement of student achievement is due to students feeling ‘ownership’ of their learning. Schleicher reports that in all high performing PISA schools students believe they can personally make a difference in their education, parents hold high expectations for their children, and in general have an ‘ownership’ culture. Teachers have a high degree of autonomy, contribute to the development of standards and have substantial time for professional growth. They also hold one another accountable for high standards of professionalism.

The 1:1 authentic implementation can move the US needle forward in each of the areas noted above. The overarching education leaders must ensure the professional growth opportunities for teachers to contribute to the system and support, guide and hold one another accountable for the vision.

There are many around the world creating a body of wisdom and practice that will get us where we need to go in this transformation. Learning from one another such as we experienced at our International Conference provides a stepping stone for a grander movement.

Leslie Wilson CEO-One-to-One Institute Co-author: Project RED

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