Why 1:1? Why Chromebooks? [guest post]
The first post of a 4-part series on 1:1 at Leyden High Schools.
Jason Markey, principal of East Leyden High School
Leyden High School District, located just outside of Chicago, serves the communities of Franklin Park, Schiller Park, River Grove, Rosemont, and parts of Northlake and Melrose Park. Our two high schools serve just over 3,500 students.
I’m excited about Leyden sharing our 1:1 journey in hopes that we can help schools realize the potential of access for all students and to allow all of us to learn from others along the way. One of the most important parts of our digital evolution has been the conversations, visits, and meetings that we have been fortunate to have with districts from Iowa, South Carolina, Massachusetts and many others. But the most important part of any school’s development of vision is to understand “the why.” So that’s where we started.
A few months ago, the importance of starting with the why was made even more clear to me when I read a blog post by Carmela Ianni highlighting Simon Sinek’s TEDx Talk. So the center of our “golden circle,” the answer to the question why 1:1, has always been because it will provide opportunities for our students that are simply not possible without anytime, anywhere access to the web.
So what opportunities specifically?
- The opportunity to ensure that great teaching and learning can happen in all classrooms and not be dependent upon access.
- The opportunity to collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously with other students seamlessly.
- The opportunity for students to receive more timely and specific feedback from teachers.
- The opportunity for students to create a positive digital footprint with learning being public on the web.
- The opportunity for students to generate more writing and create more authentic representations of their learning than ever before.
- The opportunity for students to choose how they present their learning.
- Leveling the playing field for access for all our students.
- The opportunity to remove the ceiling on what they can learn and share. We purposely did not set a finite goal on what outcome we want to see as “results” of 1:1 because what we truly want is for each student to be able to follow their passion in learning and allow that to take them to new possibilities.
Equally important as considering the why, is considering the why not. I recently wrote a brief blog post on considering the opportunity cost of not choosing 1:1. I strongly believe if 1:1 is honestly considered, the only roadblock for districts considering 1:1 is the fear of managing the logistics. Our next blog post in this series will cover how we have addressed the many logistical concerns of a 1:1 initiative. One of the most important decisions that made our logistical concerns much easier to address was our device selection, the Chromebook.
So the question we have answered the most since last December when we publicly made our decision is “why the Chromebook?” Often the question is phrased something like this, “so why didn’t you choose iPads, and aren’t Chromebooks just the web?” As I wrote here in my blog, yes they are a web-based and web-managed device, and that is actually an incredible advantage over many other potential devices. Ryan Bretag wrote a great blog post on this topic, “The Internet as a Belief System”. Again, many more technical specifics will be discussed in our next post, but when we considered a device we looked for something that could ensure our resources, both time and money, were focused more on student learning rather than supporting the technology. I am so excited to report that we launched 3,500 devices in our two high schools this year and we have not hired one additional person in our tech department. We have put into place two instructional coaches specializing in integrating technology and a new course called Tech Support Internship (TSI). TSI is our “frontline” tech support now for students and teachers in addition to being so much more for our students. Again resources supporting learning, not technology. In the final post of this series we will highlight our TSI class.
I hope this has been a good introduction as to the “why” we chose 1:1 and Chromebooks for our students. Please do not hesitate to follow up with me here. Also, we are opening our doors at Leyden for two school visit dates this fall and a conference in the summer. If you are interested, please see more information here.
Post #2 – The Logistics of 1:1 at Leyden
Post #3 – From the Classroom – How Learning is Evolving with Access for All
Post #4 – Student Tech Support – Student Ownership of 1:1