STEM in Primary

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

Saturday, 4 March 2017

How to do a successful 1:1 device program (Part 2)

Stuff this week - How to do a successful 1:1 device program (Part 2)?

As I alluded to last week the decision on which device to purchase should be made after months of planning. Schools should be considering what they do now, how technology could enhance their teaching, exactly what they would like to do and how they can measure student success. Only after this is done will it become clear which type of device would be ideal and how many are needed.
One of the major things to be investigated when embarking on a 1:1 device program is the school's existing IT infrastructure. Teachers regularly complain that they are time poor in the classroom and so use of devices cannot further impinge on this (the devices should be freeing up time). For example, slow network speeds causing video buffering or laggy web browsing would be counterproductive.
Common Sense Media have a great tech readiness rubric to use to evaluate a school’s network and future proofing is essential as data consumption and bandwidth hungry applications are increasing exponentially. In terms of internet speed there is no golden rule but as a rough guide the Federal Communications Commission in the USA currently have the benchmark set in 2013 at 100 kbps per student although this is changing to 1 Mbps per student in 2018. YouTube state that a minimum of 500 kbps is required to watch their videos and I would suggest that this would be the current day minimum bandwidth per student with infrastructure in place that will allow significant expansion of this in the future. Crazily I think many schools fall short in this fundamental requirement. Retail household connections are available at 100Mbps and I would therefore expect a school would have at least this much bandwidth.
The other crucial element to the program is teacher training. There are free courses available such as Google’s Certified Educator program (which is useful regardless of device) and Microsoft has an ambassador who can visit the school and provide guidance. Ultimately though the training must be to such depth that that teachers feel completely comfortable with what they plan to achieve with the device and how they will measure success. If a school is making it up as they go along and experimenting then they likely have not established the SMART goals I mentioned earlier..
So I think that it is possible to have a successful device program and there are schools such as St Patrick's in Gympie that are showing the way. However, it takes effort and commitment to devise a sound strategy that can be communicated to the parent body to justify the risk and expense. This strategy must be able to be evaluated to show that ultimately, that risk and expense was justified.
Schools need to approach the problem from the point of view of what do they want to do NOT from a preconceived notion of what hardware or software they are going to use. Providing extensive training to the teachers should be non-negotiable.
Do you think the teachers and school was prepared for any 1:1 roll-out you have been involved in? How did the school measure success of the program? Did they start with outcomes or hardware?

Nothing could be more absurd than an experiment in which computers are placed in a classroom where nothing else is changed. - Seymour Papert

Stuff in the news

Innovation brings results - An article from the Parramatta Sun describing the transformation that Parramatta Marist High School has embarked upon to embrace 21st Century learning . 2 March 2017
Does the Device Matter - A blog post reinforcing what I have covered in this and last weeks post but also going further to explain more detail around lesson planning. 7 February 2016

Stuff to buy

Scratch Coding Cards: Creative Coding Activities for Kids - A colourful 75-card deck used to create a variety of interactive programming projects.
From KickStarter: Orboot: The Educational, Augmented Reality Globe - A smart globe that teaches children about countries and cultures from around the world
*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

Internet at schools: High speed and reliability matters - A blog post suggesting Internet connectivity is as essential as electricity.
What Are the Real Benefits of a 1:1 Program? What Are the Biggest Challenges? - A podcast from the BAM Radio Network exploring the many benefits of providing every student with a portable computing device and some of the biggest potential pitfalls of setting up a 1:1 program.
Rolling Out a Successful 1-to-1 Program at Your School - Another podcast from the BAM Radio Network.

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 the flexischools website 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!
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Brisbane Library Service has purchased the very flash NAO Robot and is showing it off in various libraries.
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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