STEM in Primary

STEM in Primary
A blog for those interested in primary school STEM education

Saturday, 25 February 2017

How to do a successful 1:1 device program (Part 1)?

Stuff this week - How to do a successful 1:1 device program (Part 1)?

A 1:1 device program is one where each student has access to their own device throughout every school day. I am actually not particularly in favour of schools embarking on such a program at this time. I don't mean that I am opposed to it fundamentally but I do think that time, effort and money would be better spent elsewhere. Specifically I think that STEM related resources and teacher training should be where funds are expended right now and I think this would result in better educational outcomes overall. I would also make the point that I am not saying that schools should have no devices but just not 1:1, yet…
However, not everyone shares my view so if a school is going to spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on a 1:1 device program then it should be done properly. By properly I mean as I wrote in a previous blog post that considerable planning is required to establish SMART goals by asking questions such as we are doing X which is great but it would be even better if we could do Y. For example, a goal might be that students are to be able to collaborate in real time on a project and teachers are able to provide feedback directly also in real time. Once that goal is established then various software solutions can be examined which in turn leads to the hardware on which that software will run
When it comes to 1:1 devices the importance of doing this planning cannot be understated. In 2015 the OECD released a report which found, in part, that a poorly implemented 1:1 device program can actually have a detrimental effect on educational outcomes over having no program at all. This is therefore not something that should be rushed into.
So where should schools start? There are actually a number of excellent frameworks that could be used. The QLD Government has one called 21 steps to 21st Century 1-to-1 success, Microsoft has their Education Design and Deployment Guide and Google has their Chromebooks for Education Pilot Guide. All of these broadly follow the same process. First, considerable work needs be done on investigation, research, engagement and planning. After that comes device selection and teacher training. Finally, planning for and actual roll-out.
The planning phase is so important and covers the majority of the time from inception to completion of the program. Too many schools simply pick a device and stick it in the classroom and wait for the teachers to work out what to do with them. I have asked many parents of high school kids about their experiences and typically they are required to spend over $1000 on a laptop (sometimes every three years!) and then find the kids merely do word processing, research and read their PDF textbooks. It is no wonder that the headmaster of Sydney Grammar called the laptop roll-out in his school a “scandalous waste!” Unless students are doing CAD, video editing, computer program compilation or other CPU intensive tasks there is no need for such an expensive device.
It is also likely that no one device will meet all of a student’s requirements. If you consider your own device use, for a given task, you might choose to use your phone, a tablet, a laptop or a desktop computer. Students should have the same opportunity to choose the device which is best to solve the problem they have. So instead of spending over $1000 for a single device primary schools could choose to purchase a cheaper device in the range of $500-600 and ALSO a tablet and give the students the best of both worlds.
So in summary a 1:1 device program can be valuable but only after detailed planning has been done. I would expect that parents would be shown the research that has been done to justify the program and exactly how it is envisaged that the program will improve the educational outcomes and how that will be measured. Transparent reporting of whether the program is meetings it stated goals would then follow.
Next week I will wrap up this look at 1:1 programs and discuss the infrastructure requirements and teaching training considerations.
So do you think primary school kids should all have their own device? Should they have devices which are north of a grand or would cheaper suffice? Have you seen any awesome examples of successful 1:1 device programs?


Stuff in the news

Mentoring program helps foster love of science in kids and teachers - An article from The Australian 30 January 2017
A warning from Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking - An article describing the effects of automation on the future job market. Strong STEM skills will be needed for the remaining jobs of the future. 19 February 2017

Stuff to buy

Tickle App - This is actually free and is awesome as it allows multiple different platforms to interact. So if you have Dash and DotLego WeDo 2.0BB-8Sphero or many others then kids can write code so they work together. 
LightBlue Bean - A programmable micro-controller for introducing physical computing. Yes you can do a similar thing with the Raspberry Pi but this is smaller, runs off a battery and can be programmed from an iPad (including using the Tickle app above!). Fantastic!
*At this point in time I earn no money from any product I list and I am not affiliated with any other company.

Stuff in education

Are We Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching? - An article from Edutopia about blending technology with traditional teaching. 22 February 2017

Kids Don’t Fail, Schools Fail Kids: Sir Ken Robinson on the ‘Learning Revolution’ - An article from Edsurge 23 February 2017

Sharing the Screen in 1:1 Classrooms - 1:1 is great but don't forget about collaboration. An article from Edutopia 1 April 2016

Stuff to do Australia Wide

Young ICT Explorers -  A non-profit competition, which has been created by SAP to encourage school students to create their best Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related projects. Registrations open in February. See the YouTube video here!
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Young Engineers Australia - Provides an engaging, hands-on learning platform using LEGO® and K’nex® assembly kits
CoderDojo - A volunteer run programming club

Stuff to do in Brisbane

STEMies - This event is open to all girls in years 4 to 6, offering the opportunity to participate in a series of workshops with STEM topics. To register visit and search for St Aidan's then select GUEST in the top right class list.
Stuartholme STEAM Residential - A STEAM Residential program for gifted girls in Years 5 – 6, which will be held from the 2nd – 5th April during the school holidays
The Luminarium Festival - Fun and illuminating workshops and events for children aged 5-13. Wizarding World Weekend is on 4-5 March 2017
World Science Festival Brisbane - 22 - 26 March 2017. Dr Karl for Kids is a FREE event in the South Bank Piazza on 25 March.
Whats happening at the Queensland Museum during World Science Week - Loggerhead turtle hatching! Taxidermy and Street Science!
Brisbane Library Service has purchased the very flash NAO Robot and is showing it off in various libraries.
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The Cube at QUT has a number of changing programs. 
Brisbane Planetarium - Features entertaining and informative shows for adults and children
Flying Fox Studios - A studio offering programs in the arts, music and construction areas from babies to teenagers in Brisbane

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