Monday, October 15, 2007

Response to an ISED Post

A participant in the ISED listserv posted a question about how to move her elementary school computer lab away from the "drag and drop" model that does little to encourage teacher involvement and ownership in lab instruction activities.

Below is a response to her inquiry that I posted:


One thing I would suggest right away is to dump the schedule you describe below and implement an "open" lab schedule. This open schedule will be uncomfortable for your teachers at first, but it is extremely important if you are to move your school in a direction that involves more project based activities in the lab. Encourage teachers to sign up for 4-5 days in a row for 60-90 minutes at a crack...then work with them to develop activities that are more project based and meet your organization's goals of teaching information literacy skills within the context of the project. Because the teachers are so accustomed to the traditional schedule, some will most likely try to sign up on the open lab schedule so it reflects what their used to (for example, they might sign up every Tuesday from 1:30-2:00)...encourage them to sign up for consecutive days in a row as described above. This model might mean that they only come in the lab once a month for 4-6 consecutive days, but this scenario IMHO is much better for fostering integration and higher level computer lab projects.

Also, I would examine the type of software that the students have been using under the traditional model...if it is the type of software where students put headphones on and participate in skill/drill activities that isolate them from one another, I would suggest making a change and working more towards developmentally appropriate productivity software that encourages teamwork/collaboration and dialogue amongst students.

Good luck with whatever change you decide will definitely not be popular out of the gate and it will take a few years to implement and be accepted, but it will definitely be worth it in the end. I've been through this change two times...we changed the schedule and the lab's software suite--it wasn't a popular change, but it was definitely one that needed to happen if we were to move to a more effective paradigm where the classroom teachers took more ownership for computer lab activities.

Matt Montagne
Middle School Academic Technology Coordinator
University School of Milwaukee"

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