Saturday, December 8, 2007

One to One Learning Environments

I have the fondest memories of both of my grandfathers. With each, I was afforded the opportunity for meaningful time alone with them. Every animal, every radio program, every person that walked past the porch became a lesson, usually based on a life experience to help me avoid some of the crueler pitfalls in life. I cherish our one on one time. It had to be the most meaningful lessons, immersed in our mutual love for eachother.

What does this have to do with one laptop per child, or other one-to-one learning environments? Let me play a paternal grandfather role and share a story:
When I was in Grade 8 in the Detroit Public School system, we had to share books with a partner during class. Taking them home for continued reading or further investigation involved a rather tedioius check out process that meant precious time away from the seven minutes allotted to see friends and to make it on time to the next class. I shared a microscope with eight other lab table partners and they came out so rarely, there wasn't a direct connection to labs and science.

When I transferred to the suburbs, the first thing I received was a stack of books - checked out to me for the entire year. I was assigned a microscope and my own personal lab station. We were always cutting things, picking things and looking at them in microscopes, and, when the teacher wasn't looking, creating our own little science experiments. We worked in diads and triads in our home ec kitchenettes complete with its own fridge, stove, and cupboard space. All of a sudden, there was a value placed on education by what was available to each individual, and I started taking it seriously. I was "tracked" as a low performing student upon arrival, but by the time I was in the ninth grade, my Biology teacher pulled me into the hall and shared that someone had made an awful mistake putting me in her class and that she would make sure that I was "in the right classes" by the new quarter.

One-to-one supplies. One-teacher to one-student communication. Why should it be any different for the tools of modern education? What message do we send students when there aren't enough computers (or labs) to do the projects or research needed?

1 comment:

Jeff Utecht said...

I'm getting one of these for Christmas through the get one give one program. Once I have it here I'm going to have students play with it and then try and set up a fund raiser for some of the local schools our school works with here....we'll see how it goes.