For those in Ed Tech, especially those that work with schools and inservice teachers, you are likely aware of the ACOT studies of the 1980’s.. And this book sharing the qualitative results of their experiences https://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Technology-Creating-Student-Centered-Classrooms/dp/0807735868
ACOT stands for Apple Classroom of Tomorrow and was a landmark study by Apple about how technology could transform education.
Apple is in the middle of what many call is the next study that will revolutionize how technology transforms education.
In 2014, Apple entered into a program with Obama’s Whitehouse to do an 1 to 1 experiment of sorts with some of the neediest schools in our country (based on free and reduced lunch numbers).. Since 2015, these schools have given all students iPads and teachers and iPads and MacBooks. More importantly, the cornerstone of this program is professional development for all teachers. For those that are not involved in education, you may not realize that in low socioeconomic schools there is often a lot teacher and principal movement in and out and also they often have to hire emergency certified teachers. So professional development is key to both retention and creating a vibrant learning community.
Apple has hired SRI international to do the study on the Connect Ed Initiative and the first report came out this week.
Here is the citation and a link to the report:
Singleton, C., Shear, L., Iwatani, E., Nielsen, N., House, A., Vasquez, S., Wetzel, T., Gerard, S. (2018). The Apple and ConnectED Initiative: Baseline and Year 2 Findings from Principal, Teacher, and Student Surveys. Menlo Park, VA: SRI Education. Available at: https://www.sri.com/sites/default/files/publications/appleandconnectedsurveyrpt.pdf
Before commenting, I should be transparent in my involvement with Apple and Connect ED. I am an Apple Distinguished Educator so I do work with Apple and I benefit from professional development for those that have received this distinction. In addition, we have the only Connect ED school in Oklahoma – Arthur Elementary – in our backyard at OKCPS and they have been amazing partners with the with the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education since we are a 1 to 1 teacher education program. Finally, I was fortunate to offer workshops for one of the Connect ED conferences for participants of the program so I got to know several Connect Ed educators and principals through that experience and follow up on social media.
I encourage you to access the whole report which is preliminary and only from the first two years but I wanted to share some thoughts that I felt were a big deal from this report.
- The teachers who used technology more and in more meaningful ways, started out with a more positive attitude toward technology and used it more than other teachers themselves. So what is my takeaway – this is why we must do a better job in teacher preparation to get students to be open to technology. It creates their openness to new learning and technology use.
2. The connectEd Program reduced first order barriers significantly – First order barriers (Becker, 1999; Ertmer 2005) are technical and physical barriers to technology. As the program increased teachers reported they were less concerned that technology would not work. This has been shown in other research to increase their comfort and willingness to use and try new things.
3. Teachers still struggled with developing deeper learning opportunities specifically in engaging students in design processes. This is a growing problem as our teacher candidates were from standards based education – where competency were valued over creativity and design. However, when we look at modern jobs and employer surveys we see that employers are looking for people who are design thinkers and creative.
4. The value of professional development is clear in this study. But it has to be high quality. These teachers were fortunate to receive professional development that was designed specifically for their needs and the school. As the Connect Ed program progressed, I know personally that the professional development team became more and more responsive to the unique needs of low income schools. However, not to be lost in these results – it is not just any professional development but “focused more directly on their needs; was more hands-on and less lecture-based; and had more follow-up than PD from other sources.” This is key, because it not about PD seat time, but relevancy to the unique needs of the schools and the educators in it. Districts pay a fortune for Professional Development but the format matters and I hope we learn more about that in subsequent reports.
5. So my hmmmm.. gotta think about this moment – teacher beliefs about technology became more student centered slightly.. (now I want to see the numbers, was it statistically significant?? ) But why do the principal beliefs not change? In most cases, principals used to be classroom teachers…. So what does that mean? A certain type of person is an administrator, so they tend towards other approaches? Or since they are not at the same hands-on level with the kids, their views are not based on classroom moments in the same way? Or they have other motivators and concerns that drive them? I don’t have an answer, but I was surprised by the finding.. as I know how important the principal and district leadership is to the process of adoption of technology. I want to know more about this, and read more and think about administrator attitudes towards technology.
This is a very preliminary report – and I look forward to seeing SRI present and write up more detail and share more than summary data. This is an amazing opportunity for us in edtech to see a large scale treatment with some of the neediest schools in the US.. I look forward to what they learn to help us to improve our training of inservice and preservice teachers.
I also applaud Apple on this initiative.. There is a lot of things that they could spend their considerable fortune on, and I appreciate this was one of their choices. Be the change you want to see in the world!