Mark van’t Hooft has added some on-target suggestions to the list of ingredients I blogged about earlier this week for successful 1:1 laptop learning initiatives. He adds:

Tech people who believe that technology does not just exist in schools for them. I have seen too many instances in which digital tools in schools are so restricted that it almost makes to sense to have them there, which has led me to conclude that in those cases, the technology has been configured to make the IT person’s job as easy as possible, and its use for learning nearly impossible…

An understanding by all educational stakeholders that learning does not begin and end when the school bell rings, and that technology can and will remove the barrier between school and the world. Therefore, mobile technology, like laptops and handhelds, as well as the Internet can be great tools for teaching and learning as they have the potential to make learning seamless. This also means that learning should be measured by MUCH more than standardized tests, and administrators are finally starting to realize that…

Finally, and most importantly, stakeholders need the VISION that teaching and learning with technology is not a privilege, but an essential part of education if we want our kids to succeed in the 21st century.

I resonate with this last idea: Digital learning should not and cannot be optional for students and teachers in our schools. Do we need to force every teacher to use PowerPoint? No! This should be an invitation extended, not a mandate from on-high communicated by a stick-wielding administrator. And of course, we are talking about the use of digital tools which extends far beyond a mere “accomodation” level use, of replicating analog practices with digital tools. We are talking not only about teachers modeling the effective use of digital teaching strategies, but also students being invited to become digital content creators. Inviting students to discover and share their own voices. Recognizing that there are many more voices in the classroom that need to be heard, that simply CAN’T be heard because of time limitations in a face-to-face setting. We are talking about pioneers of digital teaching using blended learning methodologies from a growing menu of tools– selecting those which are appropriate to the content, audience, and task at hand. A tall order to be sure, but one we must collaboratively strive to fill for our students– who are in the final analysis our customers, rather than the “products” of our educational institutions.

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