Fortunately, thanks to Marcia Feltes, the technology teacher at St. Peter School in Geneva, IL, I was given just such an opportunity.
How it all Began
The official rollout of the school’s 1:1 program began this school year (2013-2014) with the 8th grade class of 45 students. Each student takes the device to every class and takes it home with them each night. They also purchased 6 extra LearnPads which are currently being used as a “center” with the K-4th graders. Next year, the 7th graders will be included in the 1:1 program, and it will continue to grow from there.
The next week, the LearnPads were distributed to the 8th graders. Throughout the school year, the 8th grade teachers who are using the LearnPads have met regularly to develop lessons and work out issues. During February, a representative from LearnPad visited the school to offer a half-day training session, which turned out to be incredibly helpful and supportive.
After talking with Marcia, she says the only thing she would change if given the opportunity to start fresh, would be to allow the teachers more time to work with the device before giving them to the students as well. Overall, the process went fairly smoothly, but giving the teachers more time to familiarize themselves with the tablets would likely have led to a more effective rollout.
Challenges & Successes
Teachers are also exploring ways to flip their classrooms using sites like Kahn Academy. As for Marcia, the technology teacher, she is using the device to create lessons (and share sample products) for Photoshop and Scratch that the students can explore through on the tablets. This way, the students can follow the directions and look at samples on their tablets, while completing programming and design tasks on their desktop PCs.
Advice for Other Schools
Marcia also recommends giving plenty of time during the school year for teachers to work together on ironing out difficulties and sharing ideas. Finally, for those teachers who excel with technology, they should be given the opportunity to share their ideas and successes with the rest of the staff.
Overall, the LearnPad is excellent, award-winning tablet, with the added benefit of being specifically designed for educational environments. If your district is considering a 1:1 program, or purchasing sets of tablets for classroom use, you should definitely add the LearnPad to your prospective list. You can find out more information on the LearnPad website.