Personalized Learning and School TechTools - Do they mix? @bbray

Linux 2012 Work Report

Isn't it amazing that self-directed learning is one of the key ways folks learn more in this report? Isn't self-directed learning, which some may characterize as personalized learning? Could choosing the right technology tool to implement in your school district help students be more self-directed learners?

"Eight in ten (81%) recruiters say hiring Linux talent," states the 2012 Linux Jobs Report, "is a priority in 2012." This past TCEA 2012 session, I had the chance to listen--albeit, not closely since I was trouble-shooting a Moodle 2.2 questionnaire question for a tight deadline (Moodle 2.2 questionnaire no longer allows anonymous guest users to fill out a questionnaire!!! Argh!)--to highly esteemed colleagues, Tim Holt and Ben Grey discuss iPad vs netbooks.
Saugus Union School District (SUSD) has earned a reputation as a leader in utilizing technology — including Web 2.0, social networking tools, and Linux open source software — to maximize education opportunities. One program that Jim Klein, SUSD's director of information services & technology, is particularly proud of is the Student Writing Achievement Through Technology Enhanced Collaboration (SWATTEC), a recently completed two-year pilot involving all 1700 of the district's fourth grade students. The program targeted writing, information literacy, and Internet skills with help from one-to-one netbooks. 
The Vision 
The overall vision of the SWATTEC program was, "To select and use technology to support the achievement of the instructional goals of the District and to support the preparation of students to live and work in the 21st century." It was determined that writing was an ideal area to address with the fourth graders; after spending grades 1-3 learning to write the students were ready to start writing to learn. Based on the belief that "writing is the key to learning in all subjects," the goal was to encourage students to write and to share what they wrote with the community and especially with their peers.
Featured quite prominently in that conversation was Jim Klein's The conversation came back to mind today, as I sit at home suffering (I just woke up from an 18 hour nap to assuage the weakness of being sick) with an appetite and a craving to find out what was going on in the world. To my amazement, this question had been asked:
We are a 1A district with Google Apps for both students and staff. I am interested in Chromebooks and would like to talk with anyone who has some experience (I know they are new). Our goal is to engage students, move content and creation online, and to integrate technology. We are not trying to go 1:1, but we are looking to augment as we dip our toe in the wonderful waters of BYOT.
My concerns:
Unless it is web-based, no etextbooks
Will Chrome as an OS stick around? (very mixed reviews on that)
I know we can buy netbooks for less but they have much more admin cost (not a deal breaker though)

As much as I've enjoyed Google's Chromebook CR-48, in the short space of time that I was able to load Lubuntu 11.04 on it, I found it remarkably improved. Simply, Chrome OS just doesn't do everything I need it to do. I have to be careful, though, that I don't generalize and say that MY dis-satisfaction with Chromebook would be true of students and staff.

Still, the question is raised, what choices do educators have access to? Is it strictly expensive Chromebook vs even more expensive iPad with a bevvy of peripherals and apps that make life even more costly?

Choices. It's about choices, which is why I find Ben Grey's and Jim Klein's approach to the question posed worth considering.

Some may argue that Linux is so yesterday, that the App Economy--read TechNet's report on the App Economy--is where it's at.  In the end, we have to ask ourselves, which tools allows for the most open-ended learning and development? Which tech tools in schools allow children time to explore, to be self-directed learners, engaging in personalized learning that prepares them for a competitive job market?

Update: I'm including Stephen Downes' comment in this blog entry by way of correction and food for thought, highlighting the relevant part
Stephen Downes
Miguel Guhlin writes, "Isn't it amazing that self-directed learning is one of the key ways folks learn more in this report? Isn't self-directed learning (what) some may characterize as personalized learning? Could choosing the right technology tool to implement in your school district help students be more self-directed learners?"  

No doubt, but let me take this opportunity once again to sistinguish between personal learning and personalized learning: - 'personal learning' is when you create your own learning - self-directed learning is the typical instantiation of personal learning - 'personalized learning' is when someone else creates some standard learning, and then tailors it ('personalizes' it) for you. 
Companies can sell you 'personalized' learning, but only you can produce personal learning. Schools, as well, allow very little 'personal learning' (though they might make some time for personalized learning). That makes all the difference in the world!
Source: Stephen Downes, OLDaily

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Tim Holt said…
Here is a summary of my arguments that you missed:
1. There is no benefit to having a cheaper device if it is not used. The low cost is negated if the device is left in a cart because it is not "friendly."

2. iPads are inherently easier to use ergo they are used more.

3. iPads require less PD.

4. There is more software available for iPads than for linux. Period.

5. Even Ben admitted that his child uses an iPad.

6. Over 80% of the audience in the session were using iPads.

Since that time, I have had a little more time to think about the discussion. I left off the part about ebooks being MUCH easier to read on an iPad than a netbook.

Ben alluded to the fact that the Amazon Fire was Linux based. Yes, but it is so locked down , it really negates the whole "open source" argument.

I am still waiting for someone to convince me that the whole Linux is going to take over the world thing to happen.



For Years now...
Tim Holt said…

Kids with tablets use tablets. Can you show a similar survey for kids with Linux notebooks?

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