Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Classroom Visits

Our freshman have a mix of iBooks and MacBooks. This is because they come from three different middle schools that all started a one to one laptop program with different paths. Also, many of the iBooks have died and been replaced with MacBooks. There are a lot of theories among the tech staff about why they have died. A few are in their fifth year of use, and therefore deserve the rest. In any large lot of computers you will find the flaws, and we have found some consistent ones with the iBooks. Students are just plain rougher on things that we adults are. I also think we have not done a great job of telling students that they will get the exact same laptop back every year after the summer collection. No matter, we have this mix.

The mix makes for some interesting issues. One is that the iBooks just are breaking more, and so frequently in a classroom with ten of those computers one or two might break down. When it is a partner activity this is OK, pair the MacBook people with the iBook people. But when the activity is individual this becomes a problem.

To analyze the actual extent of the impact that this has on the learning in these classrooms I asked if I was allowed to visit classrooms and observe the laptops in action. I am getting a surprising number of invites. The principal was clear when he told the faculty that I was there to observe how technology actually gets used. One piece of this is how it gets used when it is broken.

Inspired by Dy/Dan I decided to visit classrooms and ask these questions:
  1. What can I learn about my own teaching?
  2. What can I do to make teacher use of technology better?
  3. When did technology get in the way?
  4. How did technology make the lesson better?
I made a form that I will fill out as I go. It is a bit of a work in progress. You will see over time the lessons that I learn and the projects it inspires in these posts.

1 comment:

Bob K said...

Jim - please keep me posted on this - it is interesting and a great example of teachers doing actual research in their schools!