Sunday, June 14, 2009

Going 1:1 Rethinking Learning and Curriculum Resources

As the year winds down the work speeds up...at least at my school. One of the projects we are undertaking is the transitioning to 1:1 with netbooks for our 6th, 7th and 8th grades in the Fall of 2009. It is both an exciting and daunting task. Our school has worked for three years to build a vision for the importance of technology integration, connectedness, global awareness and the skills the students will need for their futures. We are a tuition based school and with 63% of the students living at or below the poverty level and therefore it is not easy for the parents or school to make this a reality but we believe it is a critical component in assuring the students an excellent and relevant education.

In brief we are committed to the idea that students:

Must understand how to function professionally in a digitally connected learning environment and workspace
Must be able to communicate clearly in the global arena
Must be able to find and use information not just memorize a textbook
Must be creative, collaborative, problem solver who use critical thinking to come up with innovative solutions

Among the many tasks this project demands of us over the summer months one is spending time refining our understanding of the paradigm shift in pedagogy that 1:1 requires, and building a set of curriculum resources which take advantage of this change. (We certainly do not want to use new technology simply as an expensive pencil or worksheet). . With the news of California moving toward online textbooks the discussion on the web have increased about textbooks , their relative worth and what the ideal scenario might be for such an online resource..In a live discussion on Friday with a number of people on this topic there were a few principals that resonated with me. In part, what I want for our students is access to primary sources, to multimedia, resources, interactivity, real time discoveries, connectedness with other learners and with experts ( locally and globally), and an opportunity to contribute. I realize that this is a tall order but in my opinion it is also supports authentic learning that will produce life long learners,

Building our set of resources is one of the fun parts of this project and so I freely admit, it is what I work on when everything else is overwhelming. It has lead me down some interesting paths and into a few very promising discoveries. Two of which I want to share with you. The first is Flexbooks which from CK-12. Their mission statement says it all.....
“CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the U.S. and worldwide. Using an open-content, web-based collaborative model termed the “FlexBook,” CK-12 intends to pioneer the generation and distribution of high quality educational content that will serve both as core text as well as provide an adaptive environment for learning.”

The second resource is entirely different but very interesting because it harness the power of being connectedness. It is the Open Source Teaching Project. This site provides a platform for connections between business professionals and students from Middle School through College. It provides for dynamic interactions, real world connections and the assignments posted so far are al about critical thinking and application of knowledge.

Both sites are worth exploring , both have tremendous potential and both need our involvement to help them grow into the rich and flexible resources our teachers and students need. Exploring what it means to go 1:1 pushes us to consider more fully exactly what it means to be a learner in a connected world and it challenges us as educators to envision, locate and develop the best possible resources for our students.

Barbara Barreda
Cross posted to Leadertalk