I’ve heard lots of schools talk about the value of service learning, and just as many lament how difficult it can be do well. In 2015, AISB combined its planning for 1:1 with its service learning initiative to have students create a formal proposal for 1:1 to the board which – spoiler alert – was approved! Here’s how we did it.
Since October, a student working group called AISB had been researching 1:1 models from published best practices and by interviewing other schools. In the last week of semester one, they presented their finding to the senior class. The seniors spent a week processing that data, doing their own research, examining the school budget and learning the skills necessary to write formally, culminating with them creating a written proposal for 1:1 and presenting it to the school board the following week.
The curricular link was both math and English. Students received instruction in principles of accounting and budgeting, using a spreadsheet, making effective presentations using Presentation Zen principles, and writing formal grant proposals.
However, we didn’t give students a roadmap at the beginning. After all, AERO defines “problem solving” as “engaging in a task for which the solution process is not known in advance.” So the first thing we did was give the students the goal (to make present a proposal to the board for a 1:1 technology model at AISB) and have them work backwards in terms of what they needed to know and do to get there. We wanted them to get close to something like the following:
- Choose ownership model (To do this: read the information presented/shared to make decision)
- Calculate TCO
- After the devices arrive on campus, what are we going to do to ensure the technology is used effectively? (Surveys, trainings, rules, policies, etc)
- Use the information gathered to write formal proposal
- Make presentation
- Share proposal with the board
We also forecasted how much time they needed for each step:
||Teach Excel, budgeting, TCOPresent AISB budgetAISB 2.0 as needed
||Articulate policies & support structuresTeach formal writing
||Write proposalCreate presentation
||Problem & Task ReviewMinimal intro to backgroundDiscuss HOW to proceed
||Research and note taking
||Present to Director
We had the equivalent of about seven class periods to work on it.
Our estimates were quite accurate. Calculating the costs took a bit longer than we anticipated, but teaching formal grant writing and learning how to make a budget spreadsheet took less. We generated some original content: one useful comparison we came up with for other schools considering BYOD looked at the differences in performing various computer tasks across five platforms. The seniors probably needed 2-3 hours more of work than listed in the schedule above to make more polished presentations to our director – they spent some time the next week creating the final presentation for the board. They also underemphasized the support costs of a 1:1 and got a bit caught up in “ooh, this gadget is cool!” But overall, they did a really thorough job. From here we’ll parlay the proposal in a formal strategic technology plan and BYOD handbook, which will also be created with student support going back to the AISB 2.0 model.
If you’re at a school interested in having students involved in the 1:1 planning process, consider the following:
- There will be talented students interested in contributing
- The research phase will take weeks, but one week’s worth of intense synthesis can put it together; find a way to dedicate time to it
- Have a roadmap in mind, but start with the goal and make them create the process to get there
- Teach adult-level skills as part of the process to make it authentic and professional; anticipate what they’ll need (or just ask them what they want to know) and prepare lessons ahead of time
- Work with the students as equals. Don’t be afraid to contribute, but listen to their voices first. You will have more context, but they will think of things you didn’t
- Be willing to let them fail, but give them everything they need to succeed