Posts Tagged ‘lsl open house’
I am energized from doing informal presentations at today’s LSL open house! Our research project is Pre-Service Teachers in a Ubiquitous Computing Environment: One-to-One Technology Enhanced Learning. (I think we should change “enhanced” to “enabled”.)
When I read ProfHacker’s article last week on Ubiquity in Higher Education, I thought that a principle they mentioned not only applied in here in NIE but also in mainstream schools. The principle? EVERY learner needs to have a device ALL the time. Scott McLeod has a similar call for K-12 learning environments.
NIE provided every teacher trainee with a laptop computer a year ago. The naturalistic part of our study investigates what trainees do with the laptops and how the devices might influence their learning and teaching. Our research so far reveals that:
- while in NIE, pedagogical factors prevent widespread integration
- while in schools during teaching practicum, infrastructural, social and policy factors limit their use, and
- teacher trainees already own other mobile computing devices that they use as matter of convenience or choice.
The pedagogical barrier refers to some teacher educators not wanting their trainees to use the laptops during lectures or tutorials. The infrastructure barriers in schools include aging technology in classrooms, limited computing devices for students, and poor or non-existant reach of wireless Internet access.
Policy barriers include the ban on the use of personal laptops at work while allowing the use of school-purchased systems to which teachers do not have administrative rights. School network systems can detect when non-sanctioned laptops hook up to the network and some schools go so far as to not allow LAN hookups by not distributing cables or not allowing teachers to use their own. Policy barriers also take the form of administrative or social pressure not to use sites like Facebook. Interestingly, the practices vary from school to school even though there seems to be a central body from which the policies originate.
Our teacher trainees have their own iPhones or PSPs, or they have purchased cheap and light netbooks which they use for tasks both professional and personal. I think they unconsciously see the need to have continuous access to an Internet connected device. What that device is does not have to be a laptop computer.
These findings have led my group to extend the definition 1:1 computing. We are suggesting that the bureaucratic, technological definition is no longer relevant. Instead, a pedagogical and more humanistic definition is needed.
The traditional definition of 1:1 computing is administrative. It is a numbers game where the number of users is juxtaposed with the number of computers. In the best case scenario, administrators try to get as close to that ratio as possible by buying more computing devices. That can be an expensive affair. In the worst case scenario, administrators approve of computer labs where each student has access to one shared desktop computer. This limits access time to the technology and reinforces the idea that technology use is special instead of natural or transparent.
Our research group believes that a more progressive definition of 1:1 computing takes into account how people already use technologies available to them. A teacher might already own a smartphone and also tote a laptop. A student might also have a phone but also carry a mobile gaming device in their backpack and have access to a desktop computer at home. They use one computing device at any one time to complete a particular task. This may be a matter of choice or convenience. We think that 1:1 computing should focus more on what users do and how they learn with these devices.
It is insufficient to simply provide mobile technologies to users. Doing this fulfils not just a bureaucratic 1:1 ideal but also a technological one. Simply putting technologies into the hands of users does not mean that they will know how to use the devices, much less use them effectively for teaching and learning. In the context of teacher education, our idea of 1:1 computing includes providing the support (technical, instructional and pedagogical) so that teachers and teacher educators understand and learn to apply pedagogies that are more relevant to ubiquitous computing.
We must reframe the concept and practice of 1:1 computing. If not, I fear that we will not only waste money, we will also expose learners to ill-conceived and implemented ideas on technology-enabled learning.