I haven’t been blogging much this year, mostly because so many fantastic things are going on at YIS that are keeping me super busy. One of which has been the implementation of our Connected Learning Community (1:1 program) this school year.
It’s been such a pleasure to see how smoothly the program has been going overall. From the first two non-formal days of school, to the creative uses of our primary technology tools by teachers and students, to the commitment of our school community to continue learning together. Although things have been going really well, we have learned quite a bit in these first few months.
1. Don’t worry about it. Really.
We heard it time and time again last year as we visited 1:1 schools around Asia: the battery lasts the whole day, don’t worry about. Kids will bring their laptops charged, don’t worry about it. They’ll take good care of their machines, don’t worry about it. And they were right. We’ve had a couple of interesting damage cases (which Genki, Stephen and Aaron have nicknamed: “perfume”, “hot chocolate” and “dropsies”), but for the most part the charging has not been an issue, students consistently come to school with fully functioning laptops, and generally they are taking much better care of these laptops than the ones we had on the carts.
A few things have really helped us keep these kinds of issues to a minimum:
As part of the Responsible Use Agreement, students are required to bring their laptops charged to class each day. This was clearly stated at the beginning of the year and is continually reinforced. Those that have trouble remembering somehow do manage to remember to bring their charger to school so they just plug in when they need to. For those teachers that requested an extra power station for their classroom, we’ve fixed a powerbar with chargers onto the wall, just to make things a little bit easier (but we’ve had very few requests).
All students were given a case for their laptop (thanks to Rebekah for the suggestion, based on her experience at Munich International School). They’re also allowed to buy their own case if they prefer, but it must meet our requirements: it has to zip all the way around to allow the laptop to stay in the case, even when it’s in use. Our cases aren’t the coolest looking, but they’re kind of like a uniform for our laptops – everyone has the same one, so no one really notices. They are allowed to personalize the case with stickers, but it seems like not too many choose to do so.
We have a simple structure for damage and repair. The student (family) is responsible for a fixed amount for the first damage, and then the full price of the laptop if there is another incident. While laptops are being repaired, students have a loaner laptop, and their laptop is not returned until the cost is paid through the school office. We will not service laptops unless they arrive inside a laptop case.
Like most international schools, we have great kids (I like to think ours are extra special, of course). Generally they are very respectful, they follow the rules, and they treat each other (and their teachers) well. Even though they’re mostly pretty wonderful, there have been a few issues here and there with inappropriate behavior (very few, really). We’ve developed a clear and simple structure for dealing with these issues that we like to call the “three strike rule”:
We have a clear and concise Responsible Use Policy that all students and their parents have signed. When teachers see students breaking the RUP, there is a short Google form they fill in to report the behavior to John, our amazing Secondary Principal. All instances of RUP infractions are dealt with through the principal and counselor as needed – not the IT department.
Strike One: Any time a response is entered into the survey, the laptop gets collected and handed to our equally amazing Secondary School Administrative Assistant, Maki. She scans the QR code on the laptop, gives the details to John and he speaks directly to the student before the end of the day. Having this conversation with the principal is “strike one”.
Strike Two: At the “strike one” meeting John lets the student know that if this behavior continues, a letter will be sent home to their parents, which is our “strike two.”
Strike Three: If, after the letter is sent home to the parents, the behavior continues, John will have a formal meeting with the parents at school, the student will sign a contract for improved behavior, and their laptop will be exchanged for a “corrections laptop”, a loaner that we tailer specifically for the needs of that particular student – if they’re having trouble staying on task during lessons, maybe we’ll limit the browsing to Safari only and specific websites for example. We call this “strike three.” No one has gone past strike three yet, but we have had a few cases.
3. It’s all about balance.
Most of the concerns teachers, students and parents had last year, before we started our CLC, were about logistical items like charging, software, ownership and damage. So that’s what we spent most of our time talking about, and thankfully, all of those items have gone really smoothly. What has come up as more of a challenge, not so surprisingly, is balance and responsibility. Students are working through the challenges of having their own laptop 24/7, and they are very well aware of it. Here’s what they have to say:
Alongside their children, parents are also struggling with how to deal with a new laptop in the house. There seems to be something different about a “school” laptop and how it’s perceived at home, versus one purchased by the family.
In order to help support our fantastic parent community, we held a session, called Living with Laptops, for our parents to help them recognize the skills they already have and how to apply them in this new context. It was a great conversation, and one we will continue to have in future parent sessions. Feel free to read the (very detailed) recap here.
To highlight the importance of balance, responsibility and safety, we’re also having a Digital Citizenship Week next week (more to come on that later). Hopefully, this will help students reflect on their use of technology and provide opportunities to make better choices in the future. At the end of the year, we’re also very fortunate to have the wonderful Robyn Treyvaud visiting for three days of non-formal school during our last week, where we’ll come back to revisit these ideas again.
I firmly believe that the reason this year has gone so smoothly is because of the community involvement in the development of the program. All stakeholder groups had a say in exactly how the program would be implemented, what our vision is for the future, and what expectations we could have for our community. Having parents, students, teachers and admin involved in this process really helped ensure that our CLC is exactly what we wanted it to be.
I’m sure we have a lot more learning to do, and I’m really excited about the possibilities for next school year – once actually “having” a laptop isn’t such a big deal any more. If you’re in a 1:1 school, what did you learn during the process of implementation?
- Laptops, Encased by superkimbo on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed
- Grade 6’s working on a super important secret project by superkimbo on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed