We will know our one-to-one student laptop learning initiative is effective if we see a high degree of time on task on the computers in the classroom. Student utilization in the classroom is dependent on the extent to which teachers have accepted this new methodology of teaching. And teacher acceptance is primarily dependent upon the professional training we provide for our faculty. The research and the experience of predecessor schools strongly suggest this linear relationship.
At Sioux Central, our laptops arrived for teachers around May 1 of last spring (2010). We immediately issued them to teachers and then began in-house training on how to use the new devices--the operating system, word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Fortunately, we had a handful of teachers who already owned Macintosh computers and were familiar with the operating system. We held weekly training meetings through the end of the year.
When the school year ended, we contracted with Apple Computers to provide two full days of training for our teachers. It was expensive, but it was a high-quality learning experience. Evaluations completed by our teachers after the training showed me some of the highest teacher marks I have seen in my career.
Our teachers kept their new laptops over the summer, learning more about the machines and developing their lesson plans for the fall. The week before the August teacher workshop began, we brought back Apple trainers for an encore of two more days of training. We took our teachers’ skills to an even high level as we focused on how to integrate technology into daily instruction.
When August workshop began, we emphasized technology in our training and provided our teachers with further skills on how to use our district web site for classroom instruction. So our teachers received a good, solid foundation of computer training before the students received their laptops and before the first day of class. I am happy to report that our faculty started working immediately, and we have been moving in greased grooves since.