Change #1 – New Faculty
This is the start of year 3 of our 1:1 iPad program at Marian Catholic. At the beginning of this process we welcomed a new principal. This year we welcome a new President to our school, and over the past 2 years we’ve had approximately 12 new hires (8% of our faculty). These changes have helped to bring many new ideas to the table, and question the status quo. Sometimes the status quo is a good thing, but it’s an even better thing when we ask ourselves why we do things a certain way.
Change #2 – Free Books
This year we eliminated approximately 65 paid textbooks. They have been replaced with Open Educational Resources textbooks or other resources our teachers have created over the years. OpenStax has a great set of free textbooks, and hardcover teacher materials cost less than $60. As a private school, our students purchase their books so we have dropped our textbook cost for Fresh/Soph from $300+ per year to under $150. AP Textbooks are still an issue with price, but OpenStax has released AP Macro/Micro, Calculus, and others. We’ll get there soon enough. OER Commons is another great site for free resources.
Change #3 – New Students
When we started, there were NO students at Marian Catholic who had been part of a 1:1 program before. Now it is only our Senior class who remember what high school was like without an iPad. Although people refer to this generation as ‘digital natives’ – a term I despise because they don’t come to us ready to do ‘work’ or ‘education’ on these devices. These ‘digital natives’ know how to get around firewalls and how to play games. However, they need help with simple technology tasks like attaching files to an email and accessing their eBooks.
The bigger issue here is the developing culture of surface dwellers. Because of the instant gratification and other factors, it is difficult for them to get past the surface or bare minimum. They don’t want to read directions or even get to the 2nd page of a Google search. Thanks Julie N Smith for discussing this at SummerSpark in Milwaukee.
Change #4 – Pedagogical Changes
The changes we’ve seen as a result, or as a part, of our 1:1 iPad program have definitely been focused on one goal: Make our lessons and classrooms more engaging for our students. Whether it’s been collaborating in PLC sessions, or teachers trying new strategies with students, the focus has been on our students.
As we move forward, if we are truly going to use this opportunity, we must move our students from being surface dwellers to lifelong learners who are willing to explore topics in more depth. We must move our faculty from standing in front of our students to sitting amongst them and facilitating deeper discussions. We must make these moves together and with the clear purpose of preparing our students for their future world. A world where they can get answers to simple question at any time; but more importantly, a world where companies will need employees who can solve complex problems by understanding why the problem exists and how to dig deeper to find these solutions.