A Twitter conversation tonight regarding how to outfit a classroom, and spend School Council dollars, reminded me that I haven’t shared an infographic we’ve been using in our department recently when talking to schools about how to move forward with creating the essential conditions for learning within their classrooms. PATHWAYS TO ADOPTION FLOW CHART

The logic works as follows. Every classroom needs a projector and a teacher device. In order to empower classrooms to leverage outside expertise, and be open to student led inquiry, we need to ensure that the students have a portal to the vast repository of knowledge available on the internet.
It isn’t enough to tell students to go look it up at home, or worse: wait until our weekly foray to the computer lab (imagine sharing a set of 30 pencils across the entire school.)

Whose turn is it with the pencils?

Once you’ve established that window, now you need to provision devices in the classroom. Sometimes schools get hung up on kits. Kits are great for initial exploration of a new tool, but sometime in a bid for equity, the devices get under-utilized. You need to move those kits into the classroom pretty quickly if you want to see the technology used effectively. If teachers can’t depend on the technology being in the room on a consistent basis, they will default back to planning lessons without technology. If 7 times out of 10 the bus doesn’t get me to work on time, even though I really want to be ecologically friendly, I will default back to driving my car, instead of planning around something I can’t guarantee. The same is true of teachers and technology. Most want to integrate technology into practice, but not at the cost of not knowing whether or not it will be available when they need it.

I think the middle portion of this infographic, especially in elementary, is a sweet-spot to strive towards. Give me 6-8 devices in my classroom, and students can investigate things together. They can make movies, or record engaging small group podcasts on topics they are interested in, or make stop motion animation movies. Not every student needs a device at all times in order to do this: a lot of the pre-planning (and learning) happens on paper before the artifact is created.

1:1 is like the holy grail. We recognize that it would be optimum to have a device in every student’s hands. I can’t leave it off of the graphic, because it’s the logical next step, but I know it’s not necessarily feasible in the short term.  If we can provide enough devices in the classroom to enable the integration of technology into the everyday teaching and learning going on, and students are exploring different things in small differentiated centres, and sharing their learning back via a blog, I think we have the components of an engaging space.

I’ll share an example from my classroom a few years ago. During the Olympic Games, a few of the students decided they wanted to report the news from the previous day.

  Leveraging the Hamilton Spectator’s Newspapers in Education program, the students read through the previous days events, pulled items that were of particular interest to them, and reported them out to an audience. Most of this work happened using newspapers and highlighters. One video camera and some video editing software on the SMARTboard became our editing suite. Summarizing the longer articles in the Spec for our “television audience” was just one of many rich tasks the students needed to complete in order to put together an episode every day. We didn’t all have devices; but we had enough to do some very cool things in the classroom.


Published by jarbenne

Jared Bennett is the Student Information System Consultant at Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

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  1. “Whose turn is it with the pencils” brought a smile to my face. Great infographic and explanation ~ I dream of the holy grail of 1:1 as I find interruptions in the seamless integration of tech into my students’ learning frustrating…but I am happy to learn from others who are making the sweet spot work. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for a very enlightening post Jared. We are at a school that is privileged to have quite a number of computers, both in carts and in pods. However when you consider that we have 3 laptop carts with a total of 45 laptops and sharing them among 32 classrooms then you start to question how privilege we are. The teachers in the middle school have pooled our I-pads together, so we share a kit of 7 I-pads among 7 classes. It is not only frustrating for the teachers but more so the students, as we have decided that our focus this year is indicator 3.1 – student voice and choice. Just yesterday because of the switch of subject times, I had to ask 2 students to reconsider the format they wanted to use to show their learning (1 using Bitstrip, the other Prezi) because it was the 2nd time that they did not have access to a computer. We have a great principal who truly understands our dilemma and is trying his best to help us. Quite a few of the students in my class BTOD but for those who don’t and want to use technology it tends to be difficult. With more teachers using the inquiry model and using less paper and more technology (giving more choice) we truly need to make technology a huge focus in our schools.

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