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Author Biography: Patrick Larkin is the Principal of Burlington High School in Massachusetts where he is in his 15th year as a high

school administrator and eighth as a building Principal. He was recently selected as one of three national Digital Principal Award winner by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). He is active presenting to colleagues on the power of social media for administrators, teachers, and students. In addition, he is an avid blogger and a proponent of social media to better engage teachers, students, and parents in the education process. Patrick is one of the founders of the Connected Principals Blog and #cpchat on Twitter. He is one of the authors of the Super Book of Web Tools for Educators, an avid blogger and a proponent of social media to better engage teachers, students, and parents in the education process. He is also one of the co-founders of the Eduvision Network. Activity Summary
Why would a school want to give web-enabled devices to every student? It had only been a couple of years earlier that school policy forbade the presence of cellphones in the school and now we were talking about putting gadgets in the hands of over 1,000 students. Here is the story of my school’s journey to 1:1. Class or subject area: Transitioning to a 1:1 school (w/iPads) Grade level(s): 9-12 Specific learning objectives: • Learners will demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. • Learners use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. • Learners apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. • Learners use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.

Anniversary Book Project


Setting the Stage for 1:1
The School That Launched 1,000 iPads

By: Patrick Larkin Creative Commons License: CC BY Author contact:

During the spring of 2010, I was a bit surprised when our school committee and Superintendent gave me the go-ahead to fly to Iowa for a 1:1 computing institute so that we could formulate a plan to put web-enabled devices in the hands of every student at Burlington High School. Of course before getting the green light to fly off to Des Moines with a Burlington High faculty member, I had to start answering a question that I have answered countless times in the past two years...why? Why would a school want to give web-enabled devices to every student? It had only been a couple of years earlier that school policy forbade the presence of cellphones in the school and now we were talking about putting gadgets in the hands of over 1,000 students. But, before I get started with a few specifics in answering the why, I started asking my own questions... ...What type of education do we want for our kids? Being a father of three, I have some things that I want for my children that I assumed that we could all agree upon: • I want my children to learn about resources that allow them to connect and collaborate with those who share their passions/interests. • I want my children to be inquisitive and lead their own learning. • I want my children to be responsible citizens. I am bothered by the fact that the world outside of our schools has changed so dramatically, while the world inside has changed very little. It would seem to me that we would start to see changes inside or schools that would correspond to what is happening outside. A blog post from Scott McLeod titled If we were really serious about educational technology was right in line with our thinking in making this transition. The things that Scott discusses (see a partial list below) are imperative to the delivery of a relevant curriculum in the year 2011. • • • Show students how to edit their privacy settings and use groups in Facebook instead of banning online social networks because they’re ‘dangerous’ and/or ‘frivolous’ Treat seriously and own personally the task of becoming proficient with the digital tools that are transforming everything instead of nonchalantly chuckling about how little we as educators know about computers; Put a robust digital learning device into every student’s hands (or let them bring and use their own) instead of pretending that we live in a pencil notebook paper and ring binder world

Fortunately, our community agreed with this line of thinking and began to share our vision for our students. They agreed that our students would be at an advantage if they were educated in an environment that embedded digital resources into the curriculum and focused on responsible use.

Professional Development for staff At the same time, we were making the case with our parents (with monthly technology nights) and school board, we started providing professional development for our teaching staff in the utilization of digital resources in their classrooms. As is to be expected, there were some members of the faculty who were feeling uncomfortable with the fact that we were changing so quickly from a school that did not allow devices to one where we were handing them out to all students. One of the biggest fears we heard from some people was that they were concerned about losing control control due to the fact that they would not know how to best utilize all of the tools that they would have at their disposal. They were afraid that their students would know more than they did in regards to using the new tools that they would be trying to implement. The fact of the matter is that, this is never going to change due to the fact that the list of tools is growing daily. There is no one on earth who can claim expertise in all of the technological tools out there and this creates the obvious need for a shift in thinking from people who see themselves as experts in their classrooms to people who see themselves as guides and/or co-learners. Some of the people we met in Iowa described the shift as creating classrooms that are not teacher-centered, but are instead learner-centered. These are places where teachers consider themselves learners along with their students. In order to move forward, we decided to spend more time thinking about what it really means to be a lifelong learner and what the role of educators looks like in this model. In regards to students, I always thought we were trying to develop LIFELONG LEARNERS, or at least that’s what our Mission Statements usually say. Surely, we cannot develop inquisitive, proactive, curious, collaborative, creative... students if we accept stagnancy. Madeline Hunter’s statement - “Any growth requires a temporary loss of security” was quite relevant for us as well. With this in mind, my message to our staff was to embrace the opportunity and not to worry about failure. Because for me, the only true failure would take place if we just continued to go about things the way that we have done for so many previous years. Of course, this was easier said than done due to the fact that the idea of failure has been one that has been avoided at all costs in schools for decades and it is one of the biggest reasons we are where we are in public education. In so many instances, we stay in our comfort zones because we are afraid that something might not work. In the meantime, we are preparing our students for a world in which things are changing faster than ever and where flexibility and innovation are at a premium. In short, we cannot adequately prepare our students if we do not adopt this mindset. Seth Godin sums this up beautifully in a blog post titled, The Privilege of Being Wrong: “As you gain resources, the act of being wrong goes from being fatal to annoying to a precious opportunity, something that you’ve earned. You won’t advance your cause or discover new truths if you’re obsessed with being right all the time--and so the best way to compound

your advantage and accomplish even more than you already have is to set out (with relish) to be as open to wrong as often as you can afford to be.” As we loosen up our white-knuckled grip on security and relish the opportunities that failure can present, we also need to talk openly about our shortcomings and share them with others. In his book Poke the Box Godin asks an important question “When was the last time you set out to be promiscuous in your failures?” In order to become a highly functioning learning environment this needs to be a daily occurrence. If our intention is to remain relevant then we need to pull up the shades, open our doors and embrace the failure that comes with change. We have some important choices to make and it comes down to a few questions that those of us who choose to be educators have to answer in regards to the the types of learning environments we want for our students. These questions would be something like the ones that Godin outlines in his book Graceful, questions asked by founder Jeff Bezos to the graduating students at Princeton. “Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions? Will you follow dogma, or will you be original? Will you be a cynic or will you be a builder?” We need to create learning environments that allow our students to focus daily on the seven skills that Tony Wagner discusses in his book The Global Achievement Gap: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Critical thinking/problem solving Collaboration/leading by influence Agility and adaptability Initiative and entrepreneurialism Effective oral and written communication Accessing and analyzing information Curiosity and imagination

As we built our plan for year one, the biggest favor we did ourselves was having students play such a huge role in the deployment. Our Burlington High Student Technology Integration Team has played a starring role in the early success of the initiative. This group of students is the first level of support for staff and students who need assistance with their iPad or the utilization of a web-based tool that can be accessed through the iPad. They are teaching students, teaching teachers, and giving us daily feedback on what is working and what is not working. In regards to the future and our iPad initiative, you probably noticed that there has been little discussion of the iPad as a device or apps. That is because this move to a 1:1 environment has little to do with the device and everything to do with access to web-based resources that are available on every device. While we chose the iPad for a number of reasons (i.e. battery life, ease of use, portability, etc.), in actuality our long term goal is to be a school where the user chooses their own device. The real reason we went with the same device for all was so that the adults (the teachers) could get used to working in a 1:1 setting without the added anxiety of multiple platforms. The energy from staff, students, and parents has been tremendous thus far. On a daily basis, we

hear stories of how staff and/or students are using the new tools that they have been given. From a school standpoint, we want to continue discussion about innovation and learning spaces. We want to continue to see us evolve into a community of learners where teachers and students learn and talk about what it means to be a learner. We want to continue to see us encourage innovative thinking and reduce our focus on test scores. I think a quote from Cathy Davidson’s book Now You See It sums up how we feel about this initiative at BHS. Despite the fact that Cathy is talking about an iPod initiative at Duke in 2003, I think her feelings are spot on in regards to what we are doing and why. “The iPod experiment was not an investment in technology. It was an investment in a new form of attention, one that didn’t require the student to always face forward, learn from on high, memorize what was already a given, or accept knowledge as something predetermined and passively absorbed.” As we continue to evolve as a community of learners, the possibilities for what learning can be and will be are truly incomprehensible. The only thing that is holding us back is our prior knowledge of school and learning environments. Despite the sometimes overwhelming feelings that come from putting mobile devices in the hands of all students and allowing the use of social media tools, we feel that we cannot get where we want to go without having a open conversation which utilizes all of the resources at our disposal. We take the goal of our mission statement that states that we will focus on “responsible citizenship” seriously. While these words have not changed in quite some time, what it means to be a responsible citizen in the age of digital tools has changed. At BHS we have decided to embrace this fact and work to integrate the constructive use of these amazing resources to better engage and prepare our students for their future.