When Beliefs About Learning Drive Technology Use

One district leverages a technology roll-out delay to lay a foundation for reimagining their approach to learning design.

When a popular item becomes available, sometimes there just aren’t enough to go around and you have to wait. We’ve seen this before, from concert tickets to Cabbage Patch Kids, from xBox games to Harry Potter books. While online pre-orders and secondary markets may have changed that experience to some degree, limited supply and high demand can combine to keep even the most patient of us waiting around and feeling stuck.

For a classroom teacher, the technology is so often that ‘hot’ item- and as a result there’s almost always a delay involved. The wait for the resources makes many feel like they have to hold off on what they are planning to do in the classroom. I’ve often heard, “I’d love to do that, but I can’t because my students don’t have the technology yet.” The waiting, as the song goes, is the hardest part.

That is not the case if you work in Evergreen Public Schools- at least, if you did so upon their 1:1 deployment starting in 2015. In their case, you would take advantage of ‘the wait’ to refine your learning design skills, knowing that you can leverage technology when (and if) it comes available. Ultimately, that opportunity would cause an unexpected appreciation of the fact that learning drives the use of technology, and not the other way around.

I was one of the ALP consultants partnered with seven of Evergreen’s Innovation Center Schools that had been selected to explore the design of personalized learning experiences and practices. These schools were selected not because they already had technology in place, but instead because of their readiness to take risks to shift existing practices.

We worked closely with teachers to re-envision their learning design in ways that could provide choice for learners, increase access, and strengthen learner agency. Teachers brought practices to their classrooms and opened their doors to colleagues to come “see” what it looked like. School administrators and coaches collaborated with us to consider and apply support strategies for the studio classroom teachers as well as the faculty as a whole. Notice that none of these preparatory practices are specific to technology, but rather to learning design. Evergreen used the inherent delay in deployment to focus on high-yield learning practices.

When the technology came available (and Evergreen has been fully 1:1 since 2/8/18 at 1:01 PM PDT, when the last devices were delivered), teachers already had a solid foundation for learning design that informed the integration of technology when appropriate to facilitate learning. So when you see learners or educators choosing technology, it is purposeful and powerful as opposed to ‘just another thing.’

Evergreen Public Schools has been on a Path to Personalized Learning since 2014, always leading with the learning model and tapping into the resources as needed. We are honored to have been invited to support personalized professional learning in schools across Evergreen every year since those first conversations in 2014.

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