An international superschool?

This article is worth a review for the tech ideas:


It’s interesting that they have a comprehensive 1:1 approach (I wonder when the students shift from iPads to laptops).  Also, it sounds like 90 percent of their materials are on the iPads instead of paper.  However, for an independent school, it’s unusual how heavily tracked and monitored the devices are reported to be (apparently for all students).  Second, it’s strange to think that all 5,000 devices will be replaced by Apple after only two years.  We have always driven the “return on investment” model at our school to get four years of use out of a Macbook, and three out of an iPad.

Still, it’s fun to think about– especially the idea of one school having many international campuses and a shared curriculum, with the plan for students to immerse in different cultures by having semesters around the world as part of the program.  I could see a unified tech strategy (right down to a shared SIS) helping with that.


State-of-the-art, Teacher-designed Fourth Grade iPad Integration

I continue to be impressed and amazed by the strong work and careful thought being revealed in the 1:1 iPad pilot program currently in progress in two of ASL’s fourth grade classrooms.  The teachers are maintaining and publishing an active blog about their work and progress, and I recommend a visit:


Great work!


Middle School Students and Maya Animation

I will admit that I’m impressed by the creativity and design shown by my daughter who learned the basics of Maya animation software this semester in her 8th Grade design elective.  Here’s one of her images:


She has a blog about her work, and short animation, at http://eveanimation2012.blogspot.co.uk/


Cycling in the winter

I’ve been enjoying the Strava cycling and running app and website on my iPhone 5. I’ve been using it to record all of my cycling for the past couple of months.  I even picked up a Polar heartrate device that talks to the iPhone via the new, low power Bluetooth protocol, so the Strava app can record speed, distance, heartrate, elevation gain, gps, etc., and compare my stats to several thousand others online.

Through Strava, I learned about the Rapha Festive 500, a world-wide challenge to cyclists to ride 500 km between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.  That’s about 50 miles a day for seven days in a row, in the middle of winter, so it is a bit of a challenge.  Also, all miles had to be recorded and “proved” by the Strava system.

So, I signed up and my son joined in about half of the rides over the last week for his own “Festive 250” accomplishment. To ride 500 km in London in December means rain, cold and some night riding, all of which went fine.  We finished both of our challenges yesterday and we posted a photo gallery of the ride.

Here’s a sample image:

It felt great to get in so many miles (330) in the last week of the year.  Doug and I are planning two to three weeks of cycle touring in France this summer.


HS Tech Integration Specialist Position Opening

The American School in London has an opening for a one-year High School Technology Integration Specialist for the 2013-14 school year.  If you are interested, or know of someone who is, please refer them to the link below:
If you have ever been interested in working overseas or spending a year in London, this could be a great opportunity. This position will work with our HS Technology Coordinator and the first year of a 1:1 Bring-your-own-Macbook program, as well as with our MS and LS technology coordinators.

First Lego League Competition

I had a great time being a Project Judge at the First Lego League competition on Saturday at ASL.  The video below is from the Livestream– please note that it is six and half hours long and there are some signal loss areas, so I recommend using the playback slider to go back and forth to find parts of interest.


Innovate, Differentiate, Engage

This post is follow up to my last post, in which I tried to determine three points about 1:1 laptop programs we should be able to agree about.  Based on this common ground, what may be the most important objectives of a 1:1 program?

Innovation: students should experience how innovative technology use can change research, collaboration and content production in the subject areas, and have opportunities to innovate themselves with technology.  This can include simulations, modeling, game development, virtual field trips and opportunities for global connections and projects.  

Differentiation: Anytime/Anywhere technology and information access can enable an increasingly broad range of learning activities and resources. This can enable more options for self-paced learning and increased student choice and engagement with what is learned, how, and when.

Engagement: 1:1 programs create the foundation for discussions and decisions about what each school feels is appropriate and valuable technology use, and Anytime/Anywhere technology removes barriers to academic use. We can model, observe and set high standards with a clear and well-supported 1:1 program.

As much as I like the three objectives above, I don’t think they can take the place of the ISTE NETS technology standards, which are routinely used to determine and measure the way teachnology may be integrated into the curriculum at the unit level.  However, as much as I like the ISTE NETS, I believe a stronger statement of “why do we integrate technology” needs to be made.  For me, it’s about innovation, differentiation, and engagement in a rather rapidly changing world.


1:1 Programs: What can we all agree about?

I would like to believe we all have some common ground that we can agree about concerning technology integration in schools and 1:1 programs in particular:

Number One: simply increasing technology changes nothing

  • As defined by Jim Collins, technology is an accelerator and not a creator of momentum or change
  • The real questions: “what do we want to achieve?” and “what are we really accelerating?”

Number Two: technology can enable innovation in all subject and career areas

  • in English, Social Studies, Math, Science, World Languages, and PE
  • In colleges and universities
  • In careers and workplaces

Number Three: we must model and actively engage students in a broader discussion of ethical, safe and academically valuable uses of technology.

  • Students’ self-taught uses are often naive and simplistic
  • This engagement affects character development and lifelong learning

I would like to think that all educators could agree with the points above, unless a position is taken that “technology is too dangerous or distracting or a passing fad,” which I believe most feel are all inaccurate.  In addition to being an accelerator, I believe technology is an amplifier, meaning that our intents may be even more noticed when technology is integrated, so I would suggest a safer course is to make sure our intents and objectives are worthwhile before plugging into a massive amplifier (like this seven-year old blog).

Next, I’ll post what I think are the three core objectives of a 1:1 program.  The above points are what I believe should be common ground.


Research Review about 1:1 Laptop Programs


In the articles and books below, research about 1:1 laptop programs indicate benefits in the following areas:

  • Student writing and research
  • Collaboration and communication
  • Teaching and learning practices
  • Student achievement, engagement and motivation

The primary challenges are in the following areas:

  • Faculty preparation and professional development
  • Managing the hardware, software and network
  • Having focused objectives for the initiatives


“One to One Computing: A Summary of the Quantitative Results from the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative”

Bebell, D. & Kay, R. (2010). One to One Computing: A Summary of the Quantitative Results from the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 9(2). Retrieved 26 September 2012 from http://www.jtla.org.


Abstract (from site above): This paper examines the educational impacts of the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative (BWLI), a pilot program that provided 1:1 technology access to all students and teachers across five public and private middle schools in western Massachusetts. Using a pre/post comparative study design, the current study explores a wide range of program impacts over the three years of the project’s implementation. Specifically, the current document provides an overview of the project background, implementation, research design and methodology, and a summary of the quantitative results. The study details how teaching and learning practices changed when students and teachers were provided with laptops, wireless learning environments, and additional technology resources. The results found that both the implementation and outcomes of the program were varied across the five 1:1 settings and over the three years of the student laptop implementation. Despite these differences, there was evidence that the types of educational access and opportunities afforded by 1:1 computing through the pilot program led to measurable changes in teacher practices, student achievement, student engagement, and students’ research skills.


“1:1 Laptop Initiatives: A Summary of Research Findings Across Six States”

Friday Institute White Paper Series, Number Four • March 2011

Rodolfo Argueta, Ed.D., Jessica Huff, Jennifer Tingen, Jenifer O. Corn, Ph.D.


Quote from summary in article:

Evaluators of the 1:1 initiatives in Florida, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia found generally positive relationships between 1:1 environments and various aspects of the teaching and learning process. They reported that teachers used the laptops to develop instructional materials, access information related to instruction, and communicate with colleagues; students used laptops to complete classroom assignments and conduct research.


“Learning to Write in the Laptop Classroom”

Mark Warschauer, University of California, Irvine, 2009


Quote from conclusion:

The daily use of laptops in our 10 case study schools had a major effect on instruction at each stage of the writing process, including pre-writing, drafting, rewriting, and dissemination. Though the particular way that computers were used was shaped by the nature of K-12 schooling, and especially its emphasis on high-stakes testing, overall student writing in these schools became better integrated into instruction, more iterative, more public and collaborative, more purposeful and authentic, and more diverse in genre, while students’ written products improved in quality and student writing became more autonomous (for details, see Warschauer, 2006, 2008). One-to-one laptop use is not a magic bullet to solve all educational problems, but our study suggests that it has a substantial positive impact on the teaching and learning of writing.


“A Study of One-to-One Computer Use in Mathematics and Science Instruction at the Secondary Level in Henrico County Public Schools”

Andrew A. Zucker, Education Development Center, Inc.

Raymond McGhee, SRI International

Funded by the National Science Foundation—REC: 0231147—SRI International—SRI Project P12269


Quote from summary:

Despite these challenges with computer hardware, wireless networking, and the need for teachers to learn new skills, the prevailing view among people we interviewed in HCPS was that the benefits of one-to-one computing outweighed any difficulties. According to a variety of respondents across the four school sites, the use of laptops helped students, teachers, and parents alike to reach greater levels of communication and productivity. The majority of teachers found the laptops to be especially helpful in affording them greater flexibility and versatility for professional and instructional purposes. These teachers used multimedia software and Internet Web sites that not only were beneficial in creating lesson plans but also helped to increase student engagement and motivation. The students interviewed also reported that the laptop helped them manage and organize their work inside and outside of class.



Never Mind the Laptops

Bob Johnstone, iUniverse.com (August 17, 2003), ISBN-10: 0595658970


From book description:

Bob Johnstone provides a definitive answer to the conundrum of computers in the classroom. His conclusion: we owe it to our kids to educate them in the medium of their time.

In this book he tells the extraordinary story of the world’s first laptop school. How daring educators at an independent girls’ school in Melbourne, Australia, empowered their students by making laptops mandatory. And how they solved all the obstacles to laptop learning, including teacher training.


1-to-1 Learning, Second Edition: Laptop Programs That Work

Pamela Livingston, International Society For Technology In Education; 2 edition (June 1, 2009), ISBN-10: 1564842541.


From the book description:

You’ll find practical planning advice, case studies of successful programs, and a host of implementation resources. Livingston updates this new edition with chapters on 1-to-1 leadership, tablet PCs, and the shift toward learner-centric educational environments. Also included in the new edition is a handy resource mapping the new Web 2.0 tools to various subject areas.


October Sailing

Just updated our sailing blog and photo galleries  with an October sailing report.


iPads with ZAGG Keyboards vs. 13 inch Macbook Airs

Benefits of iPads with ZAGG Keyboards

  • Smaller and lighter than Macbook Airs
  • 12 hour battery life
  • 2 year replacement cycle (meaning newer and faster evolving hardware)
  • Touch screens that enable different type of user interface
    • For drawing, for math calculations using stylus, for ease of zooming and moving images on screen
  • Portrait/Landscape Pad functionality
    • For reading digital and graphic texts, Kindle books, viewing maps
  • Ease of adding applications
  • Option for 3G/4G wireless capability
    • For Internet access and updates anywhere with 3G data
    • Requires £5-10 a month data plan per iPad
    • Enables GPS opportunities as well (maps, tagging)
  • High quality cameras, both forward looking and backward looking
  • Ease of taking photos and videos
  • Instant start up and opportunities for anytime, anywhere ease of use
  • Could likely be kept by students during summer months

Disadvantages of iPads

  • Cost is about the same as Macbook Airs (if replaced almost twice as often)
  • Designed for individual users, so much more difficult to manage and unify software sets (all users on same version, or provisioning of school-purchased software to all devices).
  • No easy way to manage files created by iPad apps– to move to other computers, to save on the iPad, etc.  (Other than Dropbox or maybe Google Drive in the future.)
  • No easy way to add or use more advanced software (Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, Dill language software, advanced Math or Science applications)
  • Site licenses and associated cost savings are not available for iPad software packages (in UK).
  • Harder to connect to basic peripherals (printers, digital cameras, flash jumpdrives), and limited or no support for more advanced peripherals (such as scanners, scientific probe hardware, smartphones).
  • Does not support Flash in browser, so many web-based services (like ALEKS math) not usable yet.  Other web interfaces, like Google Apps, are only recently supported.  Advanced features in Haiku may not be supported.  Unlikely to work for STAMP Testing.
  • Screen size is limited to 9.7 inches.
  • ZAGG keyboard is more limited than regular Macbook keyboard
  • Memory, storage and processor speed is less than a Macbook

Advantages of 13.3 inch Macbook Air

  • More similar to learning and usability foundation built in our MS program.
  • More compatibility for both high (Adobe Creative Suite, Dill Language Software) and low (Google Apps, ALEKS website) technology needs and services.
  • Thinner and lighter than white plastic Macbooks.
  • 30 second boot time with solid state hard drive.
  • Easier to image and manage in an enterprise environment.
  • Easier to share high-expense software packages.
  • Easier to ensure that all students would be on the same software versions, for greater reliability and simplicity when working at ASL and with each other.
  • Larger screen and full feature keyboard (important for publications, digital arts, and design students).
  • More complete compatibility with low end (printers and digital cameras and projectors) and high end (scanners, scientific probes) peripherals.

Disadvantages of 13.3 inch Macbook Air

  • Each device would need to be used by students for at least three years to balance costs, so the hardware would have a lower refresh rate.
  • No touch screen interface or pad-like reading capability for digital texts.
  • Only a single webcam– for Facetime and similar uses, but not as replacement for a digital camera or camcorder.
  • Shorter battery life (six vs twelve hours)
  • Somewhat more difficult for users to to add applications (but this is improving with App Store)
  • Would likely need to be turned in during summer months for repairs, cleaning, re-imaging and likely redeployment to other users.
  • Larger and heavier than iPads with keyboards.

Based on six months of testing, we feel that the iPads have a role in the school, but it is more of a targeted or specific task role, and not a replacement of existing laptops.  We also believe that the next generations of the Macbook Airs may likely evolve to be more like the iPads, with touch screens and 3/4G capability, etc.  If iPads become smaller and less expensive, they might become a supporting role device (like a graphing calculator or e-Reader) for the things they do best.


To live in the state of becoming

Back in the late 1980s, my masters degree gave me what I needed to teach writing.  I gained knowledge and understanding of the main needs of students, and instruction as to how I could contribute to their growth as writers and thinkers. It was very rewarding to see students gain confidence, voice and achievement with words and ideas.

About the same time, personal computers came to campuses in significant numbers.  There were computer labs and writing labs and boxes under desks that connected to printers and later modems that made strange squawking sounds.   There was something new in the state of becoming– a new cognitive tool that would allow many more drafts of writing than a Selectric typewriter.  This new tool was exciting, and no one really knew what the eventual outcome would be of its presence.  Would the individual be empowered?  Would hyperlinks or the easy integration of images change the way we express ideas?

To work in education is to continually witness the state of becoming.  Students by their nature change as a result of their educational experiences.  If I had remained a teacher, I would witnessed that for all the years I taught.  This is a personal type of becoming.

By moving into the technology side of education, I entered a structural, conceptual realm of becoming– what would education become next (or not).  How would we all change because of technology.  This phase is ongoing– I believe the opportunities are still being revealed, and the ground beneath our feet is shifting sideways as much as forward.  By that I mean disruptive change is disorienting and sometimes frightening, and finding one’s balance again can be difficult.  Like being on a boat, much movement can cause seasickness, which can disturb you so much that you would almost prefer to die than feel such motion.

So we walk a narrow path– engaging change that is progressive and useful and sometimes simply brilliant, while trying to avoid seasickness or the fear that the ground could fall away beneath our feet. The one thing that is clear is that we are becoming something else.  It’s likely always been that way, but today the “amplifiers” seem more powerful, exciting and disturbing than ever.  We live in the state of becoming.


Highlights from European 1:1 Learning Institute


  • “Technology is not just a tool.  It is a set of skills that needs to be taught and learned.”  (Jeff Utecht, keynote, http://www.jeffutecht.com/).  His point is that the number 1 skill students in the digital age need is the “skill of search” to parse and excel in a sea of information. Academic ability in this area isn’t learned automatically or by students independently.
  • http://jeffutecht.com/euro1to1 — Jeff’s resource page.  The Google-a-day site (run by three teachers) to help us refine and improve searching skills is particularly impressive (example: http://agoogleaday.com/#date=2012-09-30).  As both a Google Educator and Apple Educator, he could be a good choice for the ASL Learning Institute.
  • http://www.diigo.com/  — By setting up an education account, teachers and students can create shared research collections, highlight and annotate online documents simultaneously and collaboratively, and take their research skills online to a new level.
  • Client-software mind mapping (like Inspiration) is being replaced by web-based solutions (like http://www.mywebspiration.com/, or http://www.mindmeister.com/ or even just http://prezi.com/).
  • Macbook Airs appear to be preferred to Macbook Pros for 1:1 deployments, because of size and weight issues.
  • Moodle is or has been dropped by several schools, being replaced with either Haiku or Google sites.
  • The ISTE NETS, or a variation of, is the most common standards employed for technology in international and independent schools for students (http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/nets-s-standards.pdf?sfvrsn=2) and they have standards for teachers and administrators as well (http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/nets-a-standards.pdf?sfvrsn=2).
  • One school has all HS teachers to integrate the ISTE NETS standards into at least one unit per semester.  These units and goals are identified in advanced, and the complete schedule is shared with tech coordinators and librarians in advance so they can plan, offer and arrange their support for the teachers.

The Evolution of 1:1 Programs

My presentation at the European 1:1 Learning Institute is called “The Evolution of 1:1 Programs.”  I’ve been working on the slides for it this evening, and the following is the current draft:

The Evolution of 1:1 Programs

What I normally try to do in these presentations is to put some thought into broader issues surrounding 1:1 programs.  Just today, I met someone who wanted to check in a presentation I made may years ago called “One Size Doesn’t Fit All,” about how a school might have a different 1:1 program for each division, and how it was hard to choose one laptop for all students as they become older and more independent in their computing needs.  This presentation isn’t really about the evolution of hardware, software or even program design, but more about how the context and reasons for a 1:1 program have evolved to be much different that when the first programs started in 1990 to 1996.

Counting the years backwards, I believe 1997 was the year I was planning my first 1:1 laptop program for 4th graders, based on the near indestructible eMates:

I will confess, however, that the eMates were soon replaced by the first edition iBooks, complete with the weird new thing called Wifi and Apple Airports and Airport cards.

If you attend or attended my session, thanks!  I hope it goes well.




Start of Year Updates

As you might guess, we’ve been super busy with the start of the school year.  Here are some short  updates:

  • Haiku is going even better than expected.  Since 1 September, we’ve averaged over 11,000 pages served a day and over 1200 faculty and students have logged in.  The teachers are doing a great job with developing their pages, and the unified homework calendars really work.  We just about have parent access ready for some testing in the Middle School.
  • The Epson Brightlinks are also going well.  We had a new firm install 20 of them over the summer, and they did a very good job.
  • The iPad pilot project (1:1 in two fourth grade classrooms) is off to a good start.
  • The Meru wireless is working well (with 20 new APs installed, and five more just about to be ordered)
  • Veracross is ticking over fine, and they just built a new form for us in Admissions.  We are considering their summer program module and will test it this month.
  • Our Makerbot arrived, but I haven’t seen it in action yet.
  • On my facilities side, both of our planning applications to Westminster were approved!

All in all, a very good start to the year.  I’m writing this from Frankfurt, Germany, where I am attending the European 1:1 Learning Institute.  My next post will be the slideshow for my presentation.

Also, since I’m staying at the Movenpick Hotel, I just ordered up some ice cream.  Such decadence!

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