Last year, YIS implemented a Visiting Scholars Program, which basically means that YIS is willing to host educational researchers looking to conduct research in an international school context. Naturally, our very first visiting scholar was Dr. Mary Hayden, the leading expert, author and researcher on international schools. (Can you tell I’m a big fan? I have all her books – which I did, embarrassingly, tell her the first time I met her. Yet another geek moment, for sure.)
It was wonderful to have Mary at our school, not only because she is so knowledgeable about international schools and offered several sessions for our community (notes and resources), but also because she was always willing to stop and chat, and offer her excellent advice. I had several great conversations with her while she was here, and one, more formal, meeting with our Connected Learning Community team that I think is worth sharing here.
Tips for Measuring Success
At the end of last year, which was when Mary was at YIS, we were just in the final stages of planning for our Connected Learning Community implementation, and foremost on our mind (once the practicalities were out of the way) was how we could evaluate the success of the program. Mary’s extensive experience in research gave us a great foundation to start from, and our conversation produced several key ideas to implement:
- Create a list of goals/desired results in practicalities, based on our Vision for the CLC (here’s how we developed our vision). Remember to focus on not just technology, but habits, including: social and emotional wellness, and digital citizenship.
- Create an audit or survey to determine if we’ve met those goals, consider running this at the beginning, (middle?) and end of the year to see where we’ve started from, as well as where we’ve gone.
- Create a form/format for all stakeholders to regularly record what they’ve seen based on the desired results – basically a way for us to continually gather evidence about our successes and challenges through multiple perspectives.
- Develop a case study group, to ensure regular reflection and feedback with a specific group composed of students, teachers and parents (similar to the team that worked together to develop our program).
- Add software to image that tracks when students are online and what they’re doing – we can ask students to run the software during orientation. (What does this mean for student privacy?)
- Use student blogs as a record of their development, interest and use of technology tools to connect, communicate, share and collaborate.
- Try some experiments: for example: run parallel classes: same class – one with tech, one without – to see the impact that technology is having on a day-to-day basis. Or use text messaging to see how students are using text messaging (What are you doing now? What do you think about what you’re doing?)
At this point, we haven’t implemented any of these ideas yet, and I’m sharing them here as a way of reflecting and reminding myself of what’s important while we are in the early stages of implementation. We are two weeks away from our mid-semester break, and I hope to bring together a case study group after we return, refreshed and relaxed for the second half of our first semester. Ideally, this group can not only provide much-needed feedback from multiple perspectives, but also act as a mini-steering committee for the program as we continue.
I’m sure our planning team would have come up with several of these ideas on our own, but we wouldn’t have known which would be most effective, where to start or why they are so important. Having a chance to sit and discuss these plans with someone as experienced in successful research as Mary was priceless for us. And, I know she was excited to learn about the ways that technology connects us, and how the use of technology is changing the international school experience.
This is why the Visiting Scholar program is so amazing: it brings respected and brilliant researchers and educators into our school community, enabling us to push our own thinking forward and open new doors to authentic conversations and learning opportunities within our broader community; plus it gives researchers who may not otherwise have an opportunity to spend an extended amount of time in a school like ours to see things from a slightly different perspective, exactly that.
It was so exciting to plan for the implementation of this program, that I’ve just been enjoying how smoothly things have gone since we started. I haven’t forgotten the importance of the evaluation stage (how could I, after all these years of teaching MYP Technology?) but I did need a little bit of time to get my head around the finer details of the program that we’ve been working out for the last few weeks (more on those later). So, the more advice, the better: How have you evaluated the success of your school’s 1:1 program? How would you recommend we start?
And of course, if you’re a researcher, or you know someone who is, and you/they would like to work in an international school context, please take a look at the program and submit an application.