Melissa Giddins

Exploring technology and literacy in education.

Laptops 4 Learning Forum – Day 1 Reflections

The Laptops 4 Learning Forum was a two-day event with representatives from each KLA and was attended by students, teachers, head teachers, deputy principals, principals, curriculum directorate and CLI. On the first day we had sessions by Ken Olah introducing the forum, Trevor Fletcher with an opening address and Leslie Loble discussing innovation.  Then we watched a video of Sherry Goodvin, the Director of Secondary Education in Kansas, talking about their laptop program, and then spoke with her live in a teleconference. Ken Olah then facilitated a panel discussion with students, teachers and members of the Laptops 4 Learning project.  After morning tea we had a look at the laptop for ourselves and participated in or observed a classroom simulation of teaching a lesson using laptops. Following another presentation from a teacher who is already using laptops at her school, we then spent time in KLA teams planning for our project.

Some reflections on Day 1:

  • They use the laptops quite differently in Kansas, though some elements remain the same. Sherry Goodvin from Kansas spoke about a few interesting concepts they used which I feel we could easily reuse:
    • ‘Instructional Coaches’ – a small group of teachers are trained in the software applications and become ‘instructional coaches’ for the rest of the staff.  This is a very efficient way of distributing knowledge throughout a school, particularly if there is one from each KLA, putting one ‘expert’ into each faculty staffroom.
    • ‘Professional Learning Communities’ – KLA groups, expert teacher groups, etc formed professional learning communities for training, learning, teaching, collaboration and sharing of ideas, successes and failures.
    • LOTI: Levels of Technology Integration – this was the name of their self-evaluation survey, and the results of this survey fed into their professional development plan (personal learning plan) for each teacher. Now we have the CLAS online survey that does a similar thing, and there is also the Using ICT Skills Framework which you can use to evaluate the phase you are currently in. I think it is imperative that teachers take the time to evaluate where they are at, and to plot a learning course for ICT integration.
    • IPI: Instructional Practices Inventory – this was where they surveyed the students and focussed on student engagement, including observing lessons, etc in order to get a picture of the range of pedagogies being used in your classroom, while you were incorporating/integrating the ICT.
  •  The idea was floated that it will be ever more important to have our own Personal Learning Networks (PLN) in order to survive in our Connected Learning Environment (CLE).  The more we can connect with each other on this journey, the easier we will find the process. We – that is the average teacher in the average classroom – need to connect with other people: people who are ahead of them in the journey or following behind them on their journey, and it is desperately important that we share resources, experiences and ideas.  If we are alone, we will have to create our own resources, come up with our own ideas and only learn from our own experiences. The more people you can connect with, the easier the journey will be – five people’s worth of resources, experiences and ideas make it five times easier and faster to integrate the ICT – so keep adding people until the process is easy and quick – ideas at your fingertips, people to share with, lessons created and ready to use.
  • The laptops will make it easier to differentiate instruction and to facilitate student engagement. I have to agree with this idea – I want to put it in bold, underline it and make it flash, I think it is that important! We also have the ability to allow students to work at their own pace, not waiting for the rest of the class – student self-direction, student self-regulation – these are very good things.
  • There were concerns with classroom management issues, and one of the comments that were made is that a focus on digital citizenship and etiquette will help to create good behaviour with positive reinforcement as well as assist them in the world outside of the classroom. To quote Sherry Goodwin: ‘Classroom management is handled through a focus on digital citizenship and etiquette’. I really want to make sure that we have this idea incorporated at the beginning of the process – we teach them values, citizenship and how to participate socially and appropriately in the face-to-face world, we should also be teaching them the same for the digital world they are about to have in their laps at school.

Without a doubt, there are many more things to say, but I shall leave you with those to ponder first.  More posts to come on the Laptops 4 Learning Project, that’s for sure.


May 8, 2009 - Posted by | Laptops 4 Learning |


  1. Sounds like an interesting day, im curious as to why something similar hasn’t happened in our region, or why we weren’t invited 🙂 (Lisarow High School)

    Comment by Don Mcguinness | May 11, 2009 | Reply

    • They are two very good questions to which I do not know the answer, being a mere participant in the process who was as surprised as anyone else to find myself suddenly in the thick of things. I think the two curriculum directorate people there chose us? Believe me when I say that the amount of work that we will have to do to prepare resources by Term 3 makes it a bittersweet participation.

      Comment by mgiddins | May 11, 2009 | Reply

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