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Sunday, May 26, 2013


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Monday, April 22, 2013

1-to-1 - Now and Then

I’m prepar­ing for a trip to school in South Korea in the process of a robust 1-to-1 pro­gram and reflect­ing on the past 7+ years work­ing with schools tak­ing this jour­ney.  Here are some over­all observations:
1. It’s still about the peo­ple – the edu­ca­tors, the stu­dents, the par­ents, and admin­is­tra­tors – and mak­ing sure voices are heard, stake­hold­ers are brought into all con­ver­sa­tions. Deci­sions should start with these types of ques­tions – How will [stu­dents] ben­e­fit and par­tic­i­pate? How will [teach­ers] lead? How will [par­ents] sup­port? Then ask the ques­tions again but switch the stake­holder name.
2. Every pro­gram is dif­fer­ent – because each school’s mis­sion, cul­ture, and goals are dif­fer­ent. Ensur­ing align­ment to the school or dis­trict is key.
3. Stu­dents need to be empow­ered and should be part of the plan­ning and dis­cus­sions, and not just as the tar­get of the program.
4. There is no such thing as over plan­ning or over com­mu­ni­cat­ing. Plans will change and be fluid. Every­one will fill in the silence with their own inter­pre­ta­tion if there is not enough communication.
5. Hard­ware and soft­ware keeps get­ting bet­ter, more flex­i­ble, and eas­ier to use.
6. An online learn­ing com­mu­nity is vital  — one that every­one can access – to elim­i­nate unin­ten­tional silos of learn­ing, clut­tered email and frac­tured stu­dent experiences.
7. Fur­ni­ture is improv­ing – check this out:
8.  Wifi is bet­ter but a net­work audit is still de rigeur. Most hard­ware ven­dors will help out with this at a low price in hopes of get­ting the contract.
9. Learner-centricity and per­son­al­ized learn­ing is what 1-to-1 is all about. What a plea­sure to see it writ­ten into so many school 1-to-1 plans.
10. Logis­tics still count; lap­tops still break; insur­ance is still needed; elec­tric­ity is a fact of 1-to-1 life.
11. Par­ents are our best part­ners; when they embrace 1-to-1 in their home prac­tices much of the bat­tle is won.
12. Relat­ing 1-to-1 to pre­vi­ous fac­ulty work can be a smart move. One school mod­eled their pend­ing 1-to-1 in part on dis­cus­sions with their fac­ulty sev­eral years back on “what is a 21st cen­tury class­room.” The ideas of their fac­ulty then became the impor­tant frame­work for pro­vid­ing lap­tops to students.
It’s so great to see that 1-to-1 con­tin­ues to flourish.
- Pamela Livingston
(Also posted on

Saturday, February 23, 2013

1-to-1, Flipped Learning, and Online Communities

When I was first speaking with schools about 1-to-1 not long after edition 1 of my book (now in its 2nd edition) was published, two big questions were – Is your school/district wireless? Are you providing students with email accounts?  Back then, not every school could respond to both questions in the affirmative.

Now we are seeing more ubiquitous devices including tablets, laptops, smart phones and the complexity that ensues. This previous post went into some of the issues faced by schools when introducing BYOD, the comments provide more depth and ideas as well. Any 1-to-1 or BYOD school is wired now as it would make so sense otherwise.

There’s also the concept of flipped learning – an idea even more feasible when students all possess some type of device that is as mobile as they are and which is used to learn, review and synthesize content away from the classroom followed by more indepth social, hands-on learning when back in the classroom. To me, it’s all about learner centricity – if done right. This is a great thing and what we have always wanted – the learner has the resources at his/her fingertips, learning is continously available – and the user-created artifacts of learning are organized and available to the learner at any time.

However, the piece that is also needed is some type of online learning community. Rather than email, which we all know has become a boondoggle in our lives and which students are moving away from in droves, an online learning community can offer a safe, contained space for teachers and students.  

I’ll be presenting at NCCE on Friday, March 1 at 2:30 a session entitled “A ‘Cloud’ for Flipped Classrooms” which is all about how implementing flipped classrooms, or really most technology integration projects, ought to have the cornerstone of an online learning community. The benefits of a learning community include:

  •   Providing a central space for learning that extends the classroom
  •    Eliminating “Web 2.0 site of the week” syndrome which results in
    •   login fatigue (trying to remember which ID and password to use)
    •   fractured student experiences (having multiple interfaces to know and navigate)
  •      Preventing email clutter
    •   Rather than the teacher maintaining lists of internal or external emails, the community uses its own internal messaging
    •  Messaging can include sending student documents, marking them up, and returning to the student via attachments – trackable and centralized
  •     Threaded discussions
    •   Real discussions can occur and be followed
  •      Promotes collaboration
    • Students can work as a whole class or in smaller groups with teacher oversight
  •    Increased student accountability
    • No lost paper – the Internet is everywhere – even at McDonald’s!
    •   Date and time is stamped with work turned in
  •       Shared resources
    •  Everyone sees the links, the resources, the photos, podcasts, etc.
  •      Assignment posting, turning in
    • The assignments and the work are centralized
  •     Class calendar
    •    A calendar for the class is available

Full disclosure: I manage a great (IMHO!) product that does all this. But this list applies in general as well. 1-to-1 needs an online learning community to unleash its true potential.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome!

-        Pamela Livingston
    (This was also posted at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

1-to-1 for Global Learning - Free Webinar!

1-to-1 is as good as what you do with it. If educators view this as a vehicle for critical thinking and 21st Century learning skills, and are ready to allow students to roll up their sleeves and get deeply into thinking, analysis, questions, problems, and ideas, 1-to-1 can offer the facility, resources and tools to make learning happen in deep and meaningful ways. 
An important manifestation for 21st Century learning today is global awareness and understanding. The challenge is for students to embrace our new global world, develop an understanding of other cultures, hone skills and increase knowledge of other ideas and people. 1-to-1 deepens this because student have at their fingertips paths to researching, communicating, sharing and collaborating online.
A leader in global learning is Lucy Gray. I'd like to invite everyone to participate in a free Webinar all about Global Learning from Lucy who heads up the Global Education Conference. It will be Wednesday 10/24 at 1 p.m. Eastern. Please sign up here and feel free to invite others.
Hope to see you there!
Pamela Livingston

Monday, April 9, 2012

BYOD - Questions to Consider - Reposting from

BYOD Questions to Consider 

  • Hardware is diverse and at price points that are more affordable
  • Schools are hyper budget conscious
  • The "cloud" (previously called The Internet, the Web and the Information Superhighway) is ideal for core apps which are free or inexpensive such as Google (although be sure to use GAFE), and Zoho
  • Parents are realizing that a digital device is necessary for learning
  • Schools want to be sure students possess 21st Century skills
But BYOD upsets apple carts right and left. We've been building school infrastructures for a long time that have supported a data-centric model in that IT directors allow or disallow devices on the school network according to a set model which is partly about good design and support, partly about supporting what already exists and partly about not taking on new projects or approaches that require more work, resources, and skill sets. And I've been a tech director in schools so know firsthand that opening a can of worms when it impacts the network, the laptop/desktop standardization, and the hardware replacement plan is not something many people will relish.
But then there are the students. They grow and develop and move to the next grade level and out the door to college and to life. They need to be empowered and learn in an environment that encourages them to think and write and research and publish and present and analyze and create new ideas and solutions to problems. They also need to own and understand the vehicles used for learning. So this might mean BYOD.
In order for BYOD to work well there must be a strong partnership between administration, Board members, teachers, technology, students, and parents. Everyone is going to be impacted by 1-to-1 no matter how it is implemented, whether BYOD or a standard hardware platform either provided or specified by the school or district. But with BYOD it's likely you are going to see some pushback from technology people because of the complexity, change, work, planning and resources required. So here are some questions to consider:
  • Have you visited a BYOD school or district?
    • If not a team with representative stakeholders should do so armed with lots of questions
  • Are you already using Google or Zoho or some cloud solution?
    • Without cloud apps BYOD is going to be nearly impossible to implement in a meaningful way
      • You need the entire school/district community to be able to communicate, publish, present and share centrally
  • How will you define BYOD?
    • Will there be a minimum device or specification?
    • Will smartphones be one of the devices?
  • How's your network - is it ready for
    • Wifi everywhere with multiple roaming wireless devices
    • Centralized data security (BarracudaLightspeed, etc.)
  • How will you address logistics?
    • Will students be charged with keeping their devices charged, ready and safe/secure?
    • Will you have "loaner" devices?
    • Will devices be locked up somewhere/somehow during lunch, tests, sports?
  • How's your curriculum?
    • Are teachers already used to assignments in Google and in using online social media tools so that student work is already free of hardware requirements - and happening in "the cloud"?
  • How's your digital citizenship education?
    • Do students already know how to keep a respectful appropriate digital footprint?
      • In my book I talk about L.A.R.K. - technology use by students should be L - Legal, A - Appropriate, R - Responsible, K - Kind
  • How's your communication channel with parents, students?
    • If the device is purchased, maintained, repaired and managed by parents and students, it's going to be important to communicate often and well
  • How's your budget?
    • Unless you have planned fully for the changes of BYOD you might be blindsided by some upgrades or unexpected costs so make sure to ask these questions when you are visiting BYOD schools
There are terrific schools that have been BYOD for years, The Harker School in San Jose comes to mind for instance. Many people I respect have been writing about BYOD including William Stites who posted this blog post for Educational Collaborators early this year, Lisa Nielsen who wrote about debunking BYOD for T.H.E. Journal and a recent article in District Administrator starts with a quote from Lucy Gray who I respect very much -this entire article by the way is an important read. The Laptop Institute which is highly recommended will have threads this summer in Memphis on BYOD.
BYOD can be a solution if you do your planning and homework and try to figure out up front exactly what you're getting into and plan carefully. You'll want to be ready to rethink your network as not being about enabling a few models of specific controllable devices but instead as a pathway to the cloud where your school/district-wide learning community resides.
- Pamela Livingston

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Teachers - All Teachers; Students - All Students

Recently I was on a listserv where a discussion on different philosophies and teachers and school models ensued. We seem to have replaced some of the Mac Vs. PC "wars" that used to occur (partly because of  most apps moving so clearly and fully to the cloud) to the private (independent school) vs. charter schools vs. public school arguments.

My take on it - we should be student-centered. That's what I believe. When you are in a student centered environment it is clear from the beginning when you walk in that students are valued, are part of decisions, are included in thinking/planning/ideas, are respected and important. It's not just lip service - it's the real thing. If a school or district makes students integral to the community in multiple ways, students know and value this and I believe will achieve more.

My take on professional development is that it should be teacher-centered. Teachers should participate, chose, frame, give meaningful feedback on, and be heard about what they want to learn, how, when and with whom.

I have personally seen and experienced student-centered spaces in private, public and charter schools. I have also personally seen and experienced highly adult-centered spaces as well. I have also seen and experienced teacher-centered PD in all three spaces; along with PD clearly not involving teachers in meaningful hands-on, community-building and enhancing ways.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Professional Development and - Students?

Professional Development - learning for teachers - should take students into account not just as the "targets" or recipients of what teachers will put in place in the classroom - but - as the active participants in a school wide learning community including teacher PD.  What might this mean?

Students are the largest stakeholder in schools or districts by measure of numbers and impact on their lives and their future. Yet they are routinely not brought into planning, decision-making, and thinking and even being informed about the integral components that will impact them for the rest of their lives.

Recently I worked with a school district in Missouri helping them design their PD program and brought up the idea of students as co-learners, even teachers, and as consultants in the design of how and what their teachers might learn.  Schools are using students in meaningful ways as co-learners and as teachers at The Urban School in San Francisco, and with many schools employing GenYes - just for instance.

Why not bring students into PD design, into your planning and goals, into sessions with teachers, why not have them learn along with the teachers?  If students need to know inquiry-based learning and how to ask deeper and more meaningful questions - and if your teachers need to create classroom goals that are deep and meaningful - why not combine this so that teachers and students consider deeply overarching important questions and goals - together.  If your school or district establishes yearlong goals   which are incorporated into teaching - have a student group that helps plan and create the content that will be taught.

Let students see "behind the curtain" that teachers are learners, too. Let teachers openly share with their students what they are learning about and ask students questions about how they view this learning and their suggestions for improvement.  Teachers can tell students that they never stop learning and give examples and bring up some of their "homework" and ask students how they might approach some ideas.

We speak of Learning Communities and Learning Environments - yet we just assume that students are already members of these communities because they are the targeted learners.  Take them out of the "end result" position and put them closer to all the learners actively engaged in the activities of planning and co-constructing knowledge.  You will be surprised at how much they know and what they are thinking about - and how engaged they will likely be with the process.

Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay run the excellent Flat Classroom Project which you can join with your students.  But how will your school flatten all learning so that students are more than the end recipients and instead move up to a place of full participation in a vibrant learning community of all children and adults - including PD?