A friend recently let me know about the July 2008 report “Third-Year (2006-2007) Traits of Higher Technology Immersion Schools and Teachers” published by the Texas Center for Educational Research for the Texas Education Agency.
While the report points out that three of the four “high immersion” sites in TxTIP are using Apple Macintosh laptops instead of Dell Laptops, it evidently does not mention that only 7 of the 21 studied sites went with Macs initially. With just one-third of studied TxTIP campuses using Macs, three-fourths of the identified “high immersion” campuses are using Macs. Is that merely a coincidence? I think not.
Selection of a computing platform is one of MANY issues to consider when embarking on a 1:1 project, but it is a highly significant decision which impacts multiple aspects of a laptop initiative. If I was in a formal position of authority in our state or any other and was considering a laptop initiative for large numbers of students and teachers, there is no question Apple laptops would be at the top of my list for hardware. The iLife suite and the overall approach of Apple Professional Development is much more constructivist and project-based than what I’ve I’ve seen and heard about from campuses in TxTIP and other 1:1 projects which selected a Windows-based operating system. To be fiscally responsible I would certainly consider Windows-based alternatives as well as open-source laptop options as well, but based on my past experiences along with educational research findings like these I’d be highly-biased to favor the Apple platform. As I heard one of the leaders at the University of Texas’ College of Education share in April 2005, a successful laptop initiative is based on SO much more than just the question, “How inexpensively can you deliver that hardware to my loading dock?”
This is not to say that 1:1 initiatives can’t be successful and very learner-centered / project-based on a Windows-platform or on a Linux platform, but I will contend it is more difficult and much harder to find these types of success stories at schools using the Windows platform. All Macs come with software which naturally lends itself to creating, collaborating and communicating with others. On the Windows platform that is not the case. Software from Tech4Learning, ToolFactory, and other companies certainly CAN be included in the software package included with Windows-based laptops in 1:1 projects, but all too often project directors fallaciously assume “Microsoft Office is really the only software program our students and teachers are going to need.” That assumption is both false and ridiculous if attaining “high immersion” levels as measured by TCER in this report is a desired project outcome.
I’ve had this perception for several years. It’s interesting to see my perception is now supported by the year 3 report of TCER for TxTIP. This report and others published by TCER for TxTIP are available on the TCER website for download.
Earlier this year I heard that only three of the initial 22 middle school TxTIP campuses were expected to be sustainable (continue their laptop initiatives) past the four year grant period, and of those all three were using Mac laptops and two were in West Texas. (Floydada ISD and Post ISD) Can anyone involved in TxTIP confirm or deny this rumor?
As far as I know Floydada ISD is the only district out of the 22 original middle school/junior high campuses in TxTIP to use local funds to extend the laptop initiative to the high school level. Floydada High School was named an “Apple Distinguished School” last year because of the exemplary successes the district has had with technology immersion both via TxTIP as well as locally supported and funded efforts. It was no coincidence that in March 2008 Floydada superintendent Jerry Vaughn was named one of the national “2008 Tech-Savvy Superintendents” by eSchoolNews.
The need for and positive impact of good, strong, visionary leadership in our schools is evident everywhere, and it is certainly clear to see in a success story like Floydada ISD. I look forward to reading this entire TxTIP year 3 report in the weeks ahead, and will post more about this report as I make time to consume, digest and analyze it.
It’s been almost four years since this news broadcast segment ran in Lubbock, Texas, in October 2004. It is extremely gratifying to see those seeds of technology immersion flourishing in West Texas!
Check out the “Opening Doors!” video from Floydada High School to learn more.
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On this day..
- 1st Day of STEM Makers Studio: Success! - 2014
- Podcast409: All My Lesson Plans are in Google Docs! (An Interview with Shelly Fryer) - 2013
- Falco on Demand - 2011
- Advocating for balanced approaches to Internet filtering in schools - 2009
- Branding, Advertising, and the Attention Economy - 2009
- Transferring cell phone recorded audio (voicenote) to a Mac computer - 2009
- CustomGuides: Free how-to tutorials ready to use - 2008
- Free Mobile Alerts: One-to-many text messaging and voicemail - 2008
- Kozol on NCLB and the struggles of real teachers - 2007
- Podcasting 101 - 2005