We just learned that our school will be a test site for a one-to-one initiative in our district, assigning a laptop to each student for use at school and at home. We have a small student body and small faculty, so the district technology gurus decided to test the concept at our site before rolling it out to the district at large. The catch is that they’ll dismantle our computer classroom and send the desktops to a district middle school that’s in need of them.
It’s both an exciting and scary proposition. While I don’t think of myself as a digital native, technology intrigues me, especially when it makes my work more efficient or more interesting. I like to think I’m a commonsense technology user. I love technology gadgets, but once the new wears off, some gadgets are less efficient than the methods they replace. Maybe I’m just lazy, but whichever method gets the job done more quickly and with less effort is preferable in my opinion. Sometimes technology can do your work for you; sometimes it gets in the way.
I’m not the only one who feels that way. I converted my biology class this fall to a digital classroom, using Haiku Learning Management System. It’s pretty spiffy, and I enjoyed setting it up. I posted text summaries, lessons, videos, lab and project instructions, quizzes, polls, and discussion boards. I was really pumped about doing things a new way. Unfortunately, my students didn’t share my enthusiasm. Complaints started rolling in the first week of school. This computer is so slow. (They’re right about this one.) Where do I find that assignment? (Maybe under the assignment tab?) This doesn’t make any sense. (Until you read it, it won’t.) Hey, why did I get a low grade on this discussion? (Because your only response was “Yeah. Right.”) And so on. I expected to spend a little time on orienting to the netbooks and software, but I didn’t expect the digital natives to revolt over a digital class.
I’m staying optimistic, of course. Being able to test drive the district initiative is a big responsibility, and one I’m eager for us to do well. As the site LITT (lead instructional technology trainer), I’m in charge of orientation and training. By the time we’re ready to check out netbooks (they decided to bypass the iPad–who wants to type a research paper on an iPad?), I hope we’re all ready for it. I hope when the new wears off, everyone’s convinced one-to-one leads to better learning.