Steven Garton of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative met with the Technology Task Force this morning via web video to deliver his insights gleaned from ten years of successful laptop implementation in Maine schools. Much of his presentation highlighted not only the benefits of technology in the classroom, but the benefits of allowing students to fully embrace and take ownership of that technology.
Key to the success of any program, said Garton, is a very thorough and well-considered plan. A clear idea of tech goals for the classroom, proper negotiation of laptop plans, and even consideration of how students will store and transport their devices all contribute to a more successful tech implementation.
Professional development and teacher participation were central features of Garton’s presentation; he repeatedly emphasized the need for teachers to have the skills and training they need to meaningfully integrate laptop use in the classroom. When students see that teachers take the technology seriously and respect the devices, they have a tendency to do the same.
Most interesting, perhaps, was Garton’s suggestion that allowing students to take ownership of their machines led to greater learning and reduced damage. When students were allowed to take their machines home and use them for personal purposes, they could see the benefit of taking care of them. Last year, Maine had a breakage rate of less than 2%.