I visited a number of the teachers who took part in the one tablet per child pilot (OTPC) project. I was struck by one particular teacher who told me that once the pilot project was going to end in March, she was going to find it difficult to return to the time without tablets in the classroom. She happens to be an active eTwinner and was also a winner of the “EMBED: best use of elearning” award a few years back. From what I witnessed in her class I would describe her as an excellent teacher, with or without technology. During the OTPC project her students used their tablets to access primary source materials, reams of data, and opinion pieces. The students were able to access the same information and materials that professionals in the field use. What is more, they did not simply use this material to answer a series of teacher or curriculum dictated questions, but used open ended software with which they could manipulate images, capture videos in and out of school and share them later with their peers for discussion.
I asked this teacher for conditions she considered essential to bring about change and she answered, “First and foremost I was allowed me to take risks and make mistakes.” She was able to try new ways to stretch what she was doing to create a deeper, richer learning environment. She was not given a licence to do the absurd, with no link to pedagogical practices but she was able to explore new ways to apply best practices to meet her goals. If something did not turn out right first time round, she was not ordered to stop, but given the space to analyse what worked and what did not in order to learn and grow from the experience. Her goal was to improve and increase the learning opportunities available to her students. This is what I expect of all dedicated professionals.
http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/tablet/c/change.html image labeled for free use.