Our guest writer for this week is Chris Lister. Chris is a IBDP Visual Arts teacher at the United Nations International School of Hanoi. He is an IBDP & MYP Visual Arts moderator, team leader and senior examiner, with twelve years of IBDP, IBMYP, IBPYP and IGCSE experience.
Many schools have implemented 1:1 programmes, and have taken advantage of the technology available to both teachers and students. I have been lucky enough to have worked in four different international schools that each have 1:1 programmes. As a teacher, this gave me so many tools to use in my teaching, and many students have benefited greatly from this type of learning environment.
Different types of learners learn at different speeds and through different tools. This is where the 1:1 programme really helps learners find their own way of working, and encourages them to develop organisation skills, as well as personal approaches and ownership of their studies. Students have a space where they store, create and refine their work in all their IB subjects. This leads to students being well-rounded and conscientious, as they are responsible for uploading, moderating and submitting work. This also gives them some accountability in terms of deadlines and issues related to plagiarism. Students who need more time and help to complete tasks have the added benefit of sharing files and asking teachers for more help focused on the specific task. A 1:1 programme certainly helps students work in ways which suit them best. Individual Learning Plans often include ideas and approaches for using these tools.
As mentioned, individual learning environments really help students work to their strengths, which leads to more independent and responsible approaches to learning. This concept goes hand in hand with the IB programme, and highlights how students can push themselves in their studies and interests. If these digital tools can be utilised in a positive and beneficial way, they can really give students an advantage in achieving their true potential. Tasks can be monitored and teachers can help where needed. IB students are faced with many different types of assessment, along with various deadlines, which they must consistently meet. Using a 1:1 programme allows teachers and parents to support the students more, and it can be used to set goals and plans that are clear to students. With this type of organisation, students have a much higher chance of pushing themselves not just on particular tasks but throughout the whole learning experience.
A common problem students face is organising their schedules. They lead busy lives, which include academics, extra-curricular activities and homework. A 1:1 programme really teaches students to plan ahead and work to deadlines effectively. The very fact that they have their own computers with them is key in giving them ownership of their academic lives. Developing understanding of software and using new tools are both a huge part of the 1:1 programme. Through experimenting with different tools and software, students find out what works for them and what doesn’t. Based on their course choices and interests, students often discover their preferred platform and digital tools. Digital tools really do open up a world of new perspectives for both teachers and students alike.
Working alongside teachers, parents do have a role to play in the use of a 1:1 programme. Monitoring their child’s needs and expectations is an important factor in successfully supporting the students. Schools have seen a huge increase in the number of technology coaches, who are people hired to assist students in the use of their computers. These coaches are also there to train them on new approaches to working and utilising digital tools effectively.
Alongside all the positive aspects that come with a 1:1 programme, there are, unfortunately, some pitfalls. Some of these include students going off-task, inappropriate use of digital content and spending more time than allocated on tasks. When teaching groups of students, teachers do need to be aware of these pitfalls and work with the students to avoid them. In my own experience, I have had to deal with students going off-task. Rather than policing students in the classroom, educating them on why and how we can best use these tools seems to be a lot more successful in keeping them on-task. Sometimes groups of students could be working on a collaborative document, and this is a time when teachers may need to monitor what is being written.
A 1:1 programme really does enhance IB students’ experiences in education, and continues to push them towards achieving their full potential. With teachers’ and parents’ assistance, students are really able to work in a more independent and hopefully more successful way, thanks to the ever-evolving digital tools they have access to.