In our district we are in the very earliest stages of a three year rollout of a personalized learning movement that includes providing an iPad for each student (K-12). That's about 13,500 iPads across our district, including staff members.
At the launch, I was pretty sure this would be an uphill battle the whole way. For years I have been reading about schools d to convince their community members, parents, and even staff that putting 1:1 devices in the classroom was the right move. All of that reading and research convinced me that the general public was gainst the idea of giving kids access to devices, and that schools interested in launching something of this magnitude would really need to educate the public to get them to see the benefits.
What I find to be the most interesting about our launch thus far has been the support of the program from the general public. Without question, there are concerns. Without doubt, we have folks who do not agree with this decision. That will always be the case, no matter what we engage in or what decision we make. I can certainly accept that. However, we are hearing many people who seem to think it is a good idea -- that it is logical and makes sense to provide these opportunities and this access to students.
The bigger surprise has been the ease with which people who have questions or doubts are pacified. I don't mean to say that they simply lack the conviction to stick with their arguments, nor do I want to imply that we are doing a miraculous job of "selling" the program. More simply stated, the idea is becoming less foreign to them. In a way, even with their doubts, they seem to understand that it is an unavoidable reality of the times in which we live. They seem to get that if we do not give students an opportunity to use these devices productively in a "safe to fail" environment today, we cannot expect them to use these devices productively in environments that are far less safe and forgiving. For many of those who raise concerns, it isn't that they are dead set against the idea. It seems as if they just want to hear that we, too, have some of the same concerns, or that we have thought through it and have determined ways to deal with that issue (or are willing to think about it and develop a way to tackle it).
It is pretty apparent that the onward march of technology in our society as a whole is to credit. The majority of our parents, guardians, and community members have been so significantly impacted by the adoption of technology (both positively and negatively) that it seems they truly realize that education is not immune from this same adoption.
What I hope, though, is that people believe that putting these tools in the hands of students in an educational setting will begin to steer them in a direciton of meaningful, productive use of these tools in positive, interesting, and innovative ways. My gut feeling on that, though, is that we don't have the faith of the community yet in that regard. Give educators a few years. I know they will prove to the community at large that providing access to the tools was not only inevitable, but also invaluable! That is where the work of educating our students, staff, and community comes into play, and that is a challenge worthy of taking on.