One of the richest sources of information about our 1:1 pilot has been our students. Each day, in small interactions in class, in their response to new tools and strategies, in their completion of homework and development of innovative projects, they have shown us what works and what does not in our 1:1 Chromebook environment.
Occasionally, we like to come right out and ask them their opinion, too–as we did back in December or more recently when we asked for their help choosing a device. This week, as we wrapped up the year, we went back to the same question set we used in December. We asked students to agree or disagree with the following statements:
Using my Chromebook in School... Makes me a better student Makes me more interested in my classes Makes my classes more fun Gives me more/different ways to show what I know Makes it easier to keep track of my assignments Makes me more distracted in class Helps me communicate with my teachers
Because an essential feature of our 1:1 pilot is the ability for students to take their device back-and-forth between home and school, we also asked a set of questions about how the Chromebook has impacted them at home, again asking them to agree or disagree with a set of statements:
Having my Chromebook at home... Helps me get my homework done more consistently Helps me understand my homework better Helps me show my parents what I am working on and learning
As we look toward expanding the program next year to all of 6th and 7th grade, we added three additional questions.
Next year's 6th and 7th grade students will all have Chromebooks – What is the most important piece of advice you have for them? What is the most important piece of advice you have for their teachers? What is the most important piece of advice you have for their parents?
The full set of student responses are posted under the 1:1 Technology tab – but what did we learn?
Students strongly believe that the 1:1 program has made them better students. In December, 85% of students agreed with the statement Using my Chromebook in School makes me a better student. In June, this moved up slightly to 91%–but what was interesting was the percentage of students who strongly agreed with statement rose from 10% to 31% of respondents.
The pattern holds when we ask students to respond to the statement Using my Chromebook in School gives me more/different ways to show what I know. In December, 80% of student agreed with this statement; in June that number was 82%. Underneath those numbers, though, the percentage of students who agreed strongly jumped from 25% to 38%. The pattern appears again in whether students see the Chromebook as helpful to them in keeping track of their assignments, with strong agreement rising from 53% to 65%.
At the same time, the percentage of students strongly disagreeing with any of these statements fell, to zero in some cases. So where does this change come from? It may be that students have grown more comfortable and confident with the best ways to use the devices, and that their teachers have as well. In any event, the best advice for us as we expand the program may be that the benefits are not all immediate. Educators and students alike need time to grow into a new way of teaching and learning.
On the other side of the coin, students in June described their Chromebooks as more distracting than they had in December. The total percentage of students agreeing with the statement Using my Chromebook in School makes me more distracted in class held steady at 14%–but 5% of those strongly agreed, an uptick from the 0% who reported the same in December. More students, too, were neutral in their response to this item.
Our students told us clearly in the “advice” questions that they believe individual responsibility is important. It may be that, as educators, we need to be just as aware of the possibility of distraction in the spring as we are in the fall, and provide clear ongoing support for building this responsibility and independence.
The rest of the advice our students had for peers, teachers, and parents ran the gamut. They offered technical advice about making sure devices are charged, and caring for the device itself. There were lots of comments, too, about how fun they found the program to be. What was most interesting as a theme, though, was how seriously they would like everyone to take the opportunity of learning and teaching in a 1:1 environment. Students spoke of the opportunities they had as learners, and wanting to make sure students, teachers, and parents were prepared for each day.
We have learned a lot from these students this year that will aid the success of our expanded program. It will be exciting when these eighty or so students next year are sprinkled throughout the 7th grade teams, surrounded by peers and teachers who are new to the 1:1 experience. They’ll be the greatest experts we could hope for. While they are learning, I am sure they will also continue teaching.