Should teacher laptops be taken home?
This question was asked and answered today by many of the coaches I have been working with for years. I thought I would share my thoughts with the world to see if we could get some feedback from beyond our state.
During CFF, each teacher received a CFF laptop. The reason they received a laptop (and not a desktop) was so that they had the opportunity to USE the laptop at home. The philosophy was that it is very difficult to plan for a lesson that incorporates technology, when you don’t have access to the technology. Granted, most teachers, in 2012, have computers in their homes. However, it may not always have, at a minimum, the same software or hardware as the students have. Not having the software or same hardware would certainly limit the teacher's planning ability.
I’ll never forget visiting with a Coach who simply could not get one of his/her young teachers to consider integrating technology into his classes. He simply did not get the reason he should bother to invest the time and effort needed to learn the new skills he needed. In fact, he didn’t even want to use the computer. So, I asked the Coach whether or not this teacher had any children. The answer was, “Yes, in fact, he has a new baby.” I mentored her to show this teacher how to impress his wife by having him create a slideshow or movie with baby pictures/videos. My thought was that the coach could help the teacher figure out the how to use the photo/movie making software and how to burn the disc. (This was pre-cloud.) Then, once the DVD was delivered (and new Mom was impressed), the coach could start the Before/During/After coaching cycle with the teacher. So, teacher, now that you’ve seen how easy it is to make a movie with your OWN pictures, let’s talk about how your students could use the same technology to demonstrate learning – and all of the great 21st century skills that go along with the process. (Gosh, doesn’t 21st c skills sound like such an old phrase now?)
That teacher is now hooked, and his students are doing amazing things.
One coach said that her district specifies that teacher laptops can be used for “school-related business only.” That would preclude a teacher putting their personal pictures and music on the computer. That would make simple exploration a no-no.
I am curious if the majority of your districts specify that the laptops be used for “school-related business only.” In that case, how do you explore new technologies? Let’s use Pinterest as an example. There are many teachers now using Pinterest; however, it was never intended as a school tool. Someone had to come upon it and say, “I could share XYZ with my students using this.” Even Skype…if you can’t Skype with Grandma in California, then how will you begin to make the connection that, “Hey, I could do this with the author we just studied.”
I do understand that allowing others in your home to use your school computers would be inappropriate. Among those reasons is the fact that IEPs and other confidential information is most likely stored on it. I can also understand that a district is not going to provide tech support at home!
All of that aside...educators have such little time to explore the possibilities while in school. Is it right to prevent that from happening, while they watch the football game or a favorite show?
For those of you with spouses or significant others in the non-education world, are they permitted to use their laptops as if they were their own? Or am I looking at the world through rose-colored glasses?
I look forward to hearing from you.