Reality Checks of Digital Learning

Last week, one of our teachers excitedly shared that she found some old laptops in the building and was determined to clean them up in order to give her students immediate 1:1 access. I watched as the tweets went by and felt her excitement as she shared what this access meant for her students. The world was literally at their fingertips. A few days later, I received an email from her that while her kids were enjoying this new way of learning, they could barely stay online, but were being such great sports trying.

It was such a profound moment because until that point, I made an assumption that one should not make in planning for digital learning initiatives. I thought that our wireless connectivity was where it needed to be.

And then I re-learned some lessons…

Lesson 1: Know where the wireless access points are located and how such proximity impacts necessary connected learning.

Lesson 2: Wired access is not equal to wireless access. High speed wired access does not equal high-speed wireless access.

Lesson 3: Listen to your students and teachers…especially when their actions speak louder than words concerning what is and is not working.

Lesson 4: This is where having a network comes in handy. Ask questions when in doubt.

Fixing the Plane While Flying

I used to hear this phrase often and I thought it was such a weird thing to say…until now, until this year. Over the past few months, I have learned so much about people and process, including why so many decisions were made in the school districts of my past that I questioned.

Dear __________ I COMPLETELY understand why you said what you said or did what you did…I get it.

If you have ever wondered what fixing a plane while flying is like, try implementing multiple digital initiatives while learning the back ends of every system. It is the absolute worst yet fulfilling experience that you may ever encounter!

A few hits/misses and moments of clarity

  1. When you’ve never actually created student google accounts on a sub-domain and synced them with a SIS, you accept the timeline of the 3rd party vendor and trust that your new deadline of Dec. 1 won’t turn into January 2016.
  2. I used to wonder why districts had such stringent rules about in-app purchasing and then I started managing our volume purchase account. I totally get it now!
  3. Can I just say that wireless access points matter? Basically, if the reliability of the wireless network is so low that students cannot connect, the technology won’t be used in the way that it was intended.
  4. Know when to abort mission and redirect!! You’ll do this often.
  5. Using digital tools to support productivity, collaboration and creativity of the campus from a district/campus leadership perspective, is a win…especially when “the people” themselves are driving it.
  6. Teachers, even in a slightly inaccessible community, want to have a voice and connect with other teachers.
  7. If you walk into a room of kids and yell, “MINECRAFT!!!”…Prepare to lose the ability to hear for several hours.
  8. When it comes to apps, keep it simple and creative.
  9. When you order chromebooks in bulk, you better make a plan to grab help in enrolling those chromebooks in Chromebook management because if not, you will literally die.
  10. Sometimes the best ideas from social media EDU have to remain on the horizon because you learn quickly that you’ve got to make ripples in the pond before making waves in the ocean.

One more thing, always be truthful to yourself and your internal peers about where your district is in critical areas because unless we face our truths, we won’t ever fix the issues the way that our students deserve for them to be fixed.

Comments 2

  1. Your honesty is always appreciated. A big “YES” especially to numbers 1,3,4 & 9, as those have been part of my huge learning curve this year also. Thanks again for letting other people learn from your challenges.

    1. Post

      Thank you Nicholas! I’m grateful for the challenges because I’ve definitely learned so much. At the same token, I wish that life was a bit smoother! It’s all good though. We’ll get there. I love your blog post about Google Expeditions. I’m so sad that we didn’t get to do it!

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