Yes, all those things have something in common. Mainly that I learned about all of them this week. 🙂
One of the big projects for this class I’m taking is a WebQuest. While the idea of a WebQuest is not a new one (the concept was created by Bernie Dodge in 1995), it’s a new one to me. Somehow, I’ve gotten through all of my education thus far–including the teaching part–without having done one, using one or creating one.
One thing I wanted to make sure of was that I made a WebQuest that was actually applicable to my classroom and my students; this is hopefully true of all assignments in grad school, after all! Eventually I landed on making it applicable to a science unit on animals we were about to begin, since it could be self-paced and open-ended like most of the other projects I assign in science.
Outside of the content piece of the project, there was also the process of using Google Sites to create the website housing the actual WebQuest. The funny part to me while I was working was how much I had ragged on Google last week, and then how the usefulness of so many Google Apps became clear; if only my students had their Google Drives up and running so that they could download and save their papers to use later, or how they could better collaborate if they could use a Google Doc to record their research–at school or at home. The whole hangup I had with it last week was that I couldn’t see the necessity of it or how it would work with elementary and all it took was one project where I needed it for it to all make sense! That was the connection I was looking for, right there in front of me.
Another topic this week was the article Left to Their Own Devices by Jeff Weinstock (2010). While the article was all about the rationale for BYOD, as well as the difficulties districts face in trying to figure it all out, I was touched by a completely different topic than that of the technology involved. Rather than focusing on the money, time, or infrastructure involved in having students bring their own devices, I zeroed in on the educational equity piece of it all.
The article began:
At Empire High School in Vail, AZ, every student has a laptop, a fully loaded MacBook supplied free of
charge—to the student, at least—courtesy of the Vail School District. “We provide the entire experience,” says
Vail CIO Matt Federoff.
The 1-to-1 program is a cornerstone of Vail’s Beyond Textbooks
initiative, whose goal is an all-digital curriculum. So facing the decision on whether to expand the program to
another of its high schools, Cienega, the district made the obvious choice: No way.
Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but to me it seems that one school got the whole package of a 1:1 roll out and the other got nothing. While I completely agree that the definition of fair is not “same,” the scenario seems a little unfair to me. What if I can’t bring my own device to school? What if I don’t have one? What if my phone only makes phone calls and isn’t “smart?” Should I not be allowed to access the curriculum?
I agree that the whole topic of technology in schools and BYOD and 1:1 is not that simple, it’s not a black/white thing with easy answers. Perhaps the school district was making a good decision in going 1:1 in one place and not another, there could be more to the story that I don’t know. But isn’t one reason for going 1:1 in the first place to level the playing field? To give all students an equal chance?
Ok, now I’m rambling….so I’ll ask you: what connection to you see between BYOD, 1:1 initiatives and educational equity? Tell me your stories and share your thoughts. 🙂