Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

1:1 Teaching & Learning Session, OK SDE Leadership Conference

My name is Dawn Danker. I’m the Director of Operations for Oklahoma A+ Schools and the not so faithful blogger of Subtle Conversations.  When Wes asked me to guest blog during his vacation, I too was honored by the invitation.

Today I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Annual State Superintendent’s Leadership Conference, sponsored by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. This conference is designed to address Oklahoma superintendents, principals, school leaders, lawmakers and state officials.

State leaders started the conference by calling for schools to think about transformation and responding to the needs of 21st century learners. It was no surprise that some of the technology related breakout sessions were almost filled to capacity after such a challenge. I attended the 1:1 Teaching & Learning session presented by the Office of Innovation, Support and Alternative Education alongside an excellent panel of forward thinking Superintendents and instructional leaders. Their goal was to discuss innovative strategies for preparing students for the 21st century through a 1:1 initiative.

The panel members were:

Bart Bantield, Superintendent, Stidham Public Schools
Scott Trower, Superintendent, Lowry Public Schools
Steve Shiever, Superintendent, Crescent Public Schools
Scott Parks, Superintendent, Howe Public Schools

The discussion was facilitated by Eric Hileman, Director of Instructional Technology and Telecommunications. I appreciate the mood Eric set for the session by recalling the great Seymour Papert and how he encourage educators years ago to put an electronic device in the hands of every child. These panel members have been striving to do what Papert challenged us to do years earlier. Each Superintendent took an opportunity to give us some background on their schools and individual career paths. Here are the elements from the session I think are vital to share as we continue to have the conversation of putting a computer in the hands of every child.

There are Five Pillars to a Successful 1:1

  1. Leadership
  2. Professional Development
  3. Hardware
  4. Software
  5. Infrastructure

Steve Shiever Quote: Curriculum should drive the technology.

The implementation of technology in a school should encourage creativity, allow access beyond the structure of a school day, and empower students to be responsible for their own learning.

Leadership – Yes, it’s bigger than items 3, 4 and 5 because it’s one of the TWO MOST important elements of a successful 1:1.

  • Everyone is a LEADER!
  • It starts at the top.
  • A Superintendent must have a vision for the school that includes technology.
  • The administration needs to be engaged at every level.
  • Technology needs to become a part of the schools culture.
  • There needs to be a commitment level from the administration to participate in all processes related to the implementation of a 1:1.
  • Planning, deployment, training, and support is everyone’s responsibility
  • Teachers need to accept the role of leader in the classroom.
  • IT Directors need to be patient and understanding to the different levels of users in a district.

Professional Development – Yes, it’s bigger than items 3, 4 and 5 because it’s one of the TWO MOST important elements of a successful 1:1.

  • Professional Development is what makes it work
  • Stepping outside of the comfort zone should be expected not dreaded.
  • Look for local help in providing PD to staff, students and parents
  • Look for ways to collaborate with other schools. Been there…done that is a good thing in this case.
  • Train process and pedagogy
  • Think ongoing and sustained PD.
  • Model lesson integration to help easy anxiety
  • Allow creation of projects and content –this helps everyone learn
  • Keep it relevant


Not as much time was spent discussing these elements before the session was over, but each administrator did stress that their hardware, software and infrastructures were as different as their schools. This shows that the formula for success isn’t equal across every educational agency. The types of purchases (or leases) necessary will be dependent on the size, budget, and goals of each school. All the panelists agreed that web based applications gave them the most flexibility with minimal in-house support.

Back to what Steve Shiever said early in the session…Let the curriculum drive the technology.

Followed up by words from Scott Parks, “Think about creativity, think about authentic assessment, think outside the box and be prepared to make a positive change in your schools.”

I’m honored to have each of these men in my professional learning network and I’m thrilled they took the time to share their stories to help us transform and prepare for our 21st Century learners. I look forward to many more conversations on 1:1! 🙂

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