Every morning on the plains of Africa, a gazelle awakens, knowing that it must outrun the fastest lion, or be killed. At the same time, a lion awakens, knowing it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.
So it doesn’t much matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, start running.
~ African Proverb
The above quote is taken from the foreword to The Technology Factor, the Project RED report about technology, student achievement and cost effectiveness. The foreword is written by Angus King, former governor of Maine and sponsor of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative who says the report is a blueprint for fundamentally altering how we do education. He writes:
The computer is the necessary starting place, but alone is not sufficient to generate the transformational change we so desperately need. What we have learned is that it is all about the teachers and the leadership in the school; with great professional development and a new pedagogy, amazing things happen, but just handing out the laptops is not going to do it.
This is the roadmap the Project RED team has devised:
Planning: it's important to have a well designed plan based on a shared vision and buy-in from all stakeholders.
Leadership: is important for developing the shared vision, a strategic action plan and focused goals. Leadership is also necessary for building ongoing professional learning that will lead to school transformation.
Infrastructure: as well as the infrastructure and maintenance plans, policies need to be in place for support, charging and storing needs must be addressed and teachers and students need skills in troubleshooting.
Professional learning: all school personnel and parents need professional development and a coaching/mentoring model needs to be in place.
Communication: information sharing is vital
Policies: should include an acceptable use policy. The report states it's important to stay flexible and open to alternatives.
Support: can be provided by a network of partners and experts, for example it's important to build a team of lead teaches and super-coaches.
Expectation management: it takes 3-5 years to integrate technology and instruction - student achievement will increase when curriculum and instruction are integrated with 21st century tools.
External evaluation: ongoing independent evaluation should be included.
I've often said that with technology if you are not moving forwards then you are moving backwards. It's important to keep up to speed and to be moving in the right direction. The roadmap provided by Project RED is certainly pointing in the direction schools should go to embed technology into the curriculum in order to transform the learning and raise student achievement.
Photo Credit: Fast, Faster, Cheetah by Martin Heigan