Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Laptops for Teachers are Essential Tools for the 21st Century

Our School District (Coquitlam, BC, CA) has agreed to set a new direction in how it provides teachers with technology.  Have a quick look at this presentation recently delivered to introduce our principals to the teacher laptop initiative (TLI).
The TLI is designed as a District <—> School cost share:  35% District and 65% School.  Each year up to 1/3 of all teachers will receive a new laptop and after three years, the laptops will be given to students to use and those teachers will receive a new laptop.  In other words, every three years, teachers get a new laptop and students gain access to a set of three year old laptops.

Coordinators from the District Staff Development department will design and coordinate various professional development (PD) opportunities for teachers and the implementation is based on an inquiry model (action research).  Teachers will be expected to commit to participating in an inquiry model, attend some after school PD sessions, provide ongoing reflection in a blog or wiki, and use their District provided virtual classroom to support their student’s learning.  School Leaders are required to support their teachers and to develop a local implementation plan including local PD.

The District will form a “guidance team” of principals (2 secondary, 2 middle, and 6 elementary).  It will also develop measurement instruments, gather data, and report out, as the initiative is rolled-out.  For year one, laptops are expected to arrive in teachers hands February-March 2011.

“So what” you might be inclined to say.  We believe this will significantly increase equitable access to quality tools for all teachers and to enable them to connect their students with relevant resources, information, and with other students outside the walls of their classrooms.  We have schools struggling to provide the tools on their own – some are doing well, others are not.  We believe that this cost share model with built-in PD, District support, local plans, all through an action research model, will help move our entire system forward in its adoption of the use of digital tools and resources to support teaching and learning.  We talk all the time about “21st Century skills and learning” for students…  we need to help our teachers in a focused way if we hope to engage our students in the digital world.

What advice might you have for us from your experience undertaking something like this?  What should we avoid?  What should we absolutely provide?  Thanks in advance for your help.