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Technology in Education 
ByChris Cutter   posted on01 Mar, 12 1778 Views 0 Comments Regular Feature Add to favorite

Laptop computing programs have been in K-12 schools since the 1990s, but in recent months one-to-one learning seems to have re-emerged as a top topic in education technology circles. According to Tim Wiley, senior analyst at research firm Eduventures, about 1,000 of the 15,000 school districts in the United States currently have one-to-one computing programs in one or more of their schools. Though he says these represent only "pockets" of progress, it is nevertheless a promising trend.

At the same time, "Administrators are starting to realize that things like technical support and professional development are grossly undervalued," says Wiley. "The one-to-one programs that have been successful have made sure that quality control, data conversion, and professional development were taken slowly and done properly."

Why the need for comprehensive staff development? In addition to adjusting to new technologies, one-to-one educators must learn to reorganize themselves and how they manage the classroom, as well as transform their traditional instructional methods to fit a new environment-one that is more self-directed, project-driven, and collaborative.

With this in mind, following are some tenets K-12 technology leaders employ when prepping teachers for the challenges and possibilities of one-to-one.

Recruit

Before you even begin to train teachers for one-to-one, you have to choose them. According to Rae Niles, director of curriculum and technology for Sedgwick Public Schools in Sedgwick, Kansas-where all sophomores, juniors, and seniors tote laptops-technology expertise shouldnot be an issue when it comes to enlisting teachers. In fact, she says one-to-one teachers arenot necessarily technologically savvy. "We donot ask teachers about technology," said Niles. "We ask things like: Do you like kids? Are you strong in your content area? Do you fit in our school? Are you flexible and open to new ideas? If the answers to those questions are yes, we think they can learn the technology."

Illinois Virtual High School (IVHS) is an online supplement to bricks-and mortar classes used by students from 350 schools; many of those students work on laptops. At IVHS, teacher tech skills are a prerequisite. Superintendent Mike Wicks employs a two-step screening process for prospective candidates. First, he requires applicants to submit their materials electronically as an initial gauge of technological acumen. Next, applicants take ISTE is technology assessment test. If accepted into the program, they then take a six-week course on pedagogy and online learning techniques.

Practice

Allowing teachers to first use the technology in their personal lives is key, says Wiley. "If a teacher is going to move into a one-to-one classroom, give that teacher a laptop for the summer and instruct them on how to do something that is applicable to their own lives-like looking for the best travel deal on the Web," he says. "It gives the teacher personal motivation to learn...once you know how to research the best travel deals, it is only a short jump to science research." To wit: Successful professional development should focus on practical skill sets, not just theory, or bodies of knowledge.

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